by Joseph W. Gex II
The Saint Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws traveled three-plus hours north to take on the St. Joseph Bruins in Madison last Friday. The ride home for the Rocks (5-2, 1-1) was a lot sweeter following a 41-0 shutout of the Bruins.
It took a little while to get going for SSC (5-2, 1-1) but once they did, it was a wild ride.
Sophomore quarterback Gage Peterson was back under center after being out of commission the last two weeks.
The Rocks were unable to move the football their first four possessions of the game but found a spark when Gene Hoffman blocked a punt that was recovered at the Bruin 18 yard line. On the first play of the drive, Peterson hit Nour Tayara for an 18-yard touchdown strike with 5:01 left before halftime. Hoffman converted on the PAT to make the score 7-0.
The Rock defense forced a quick three-and-out and SSC took over at their own 41 yard line.
Peterson hit Ja’Kobe Cameron and Connor Moran with consecutive first down passes that moved the ball deep into Bruin territory. Chandler Chapman finished off the 11-play drive with a seven yard scoring run with 38 seconds left in the half. Hoffman converted on the PAT to push the score to 14-0.
Hoffman picked off a Bruin pass on the first playoff the ensuing drive and returned it to the 24 yard line.
Peterson went back to the airwaves with two completions to Kyle Stegall down to the 10 yard line before hitting Tayara for a 10-yard scoring strike with nine seconds left before halftime. Hoffman converted the PAT to make the halftime score 21-0.
The Rocks picked up where they left off in the first half. Chapman returned the kickoff back 80 yards for an apparent touchdown but it was called back due to a block in the back.
Then, on the first play of the drive a first down gain was negated by a holding call that put the ball on the 20 yard line. Stegall broke free down the sideline for 70-yard scoring run with 11:03 left in the third quarter. Hoffman converted on the PAT to make the score 28-0.
After another quick three-and-out by the Bruins, the Rocks took over on their 35 yard line. Chapman broke loose for a 45-yard bruising run to the Bruin five yard line. Stegall scored on the next play from five yards out with 4:48 left in the third quarter. Hoffman converted on the PAT to make the score 35-0.
Another three-and-out by the Rock defense gave SSC the ball at their own 43 yard line. Chapman picked up 16 yards on the first play and followed that run with a 41-yard scamper to the endzone with 19 seconds left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed after a bad snap leaving the score at 41-0.
SSC head coach Nate Encrapera commented, “We were glad to see Gage Peterson back on the field and finding a groove throwing the football. This was a long road trip but these are things that we have to get guys used to driving these distances, getting off a bus and playing the game. We need to prepare this way. We have to refocus and play our best game this week against Vancleave. Our backfield is beginning to come together, as well as, our offensive line. We have to start fast on offense, get our confidence and play fast on defense.”
The Rocks were led by Kyle Stegall with nine carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns followed by Chandler Chapman with 10 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Gage Peterson finished with 180 yards passing and two touchdowns on 17-for-28 passing. Connor Moran led the Rocks with seven catches for 60 yards while Nour Tayara had four catches for 44 yards and two scores.
On defense, the Rocks were paced by Andrew Mayer with eight tackles followed by Ryan Tyler and Blake Bilich with six tackles each. Hoffman ended with four tackles, a blocked punt and an interception.
The Rocks will travel Friday evening to Vancleave to take on the Bulldogs in a Division 8-4A contest. Last week the Bulldogs beat the Pass Christian Pirates 40-28. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.