by Joseph W. Gex II, Contributing Writer
The Saint Stanislaus Rock-A-Chaws met the Stone Tomcats on the gridiron for just the fifth time in history on Friday night. The Rocks pitched a shutout in the first half of action en-route to a 23-14 victory before alumni and fans as Ann Pierson Kane was crowned queen at halftime.
Both teams took a little while to get going battling to a scoreless first quarter. The Rocks found the end zone first when Ian Gonzalez Rioz connected with Ethan Galloway on a 43-yard scoring aerial with 9:21 left in the first half. Evan Noel converted the PAT to make the score 7-0.
Each team struggled the remainder of the half to move the ball. After the Rock defense put up a wall on the Tomcats to force a punt deep in Tomcat territory, SSC attempted a fair catch free kick with six seconds left in the half. Evan Noel’s 55-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left leaving the halftime score 7-0.
During intermission, Ann Pierson Kane, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Regan Kane of Bay St. Louis, was crowned Homecoming Queen.
Stone got the jump on the Rocks early in the second half when they held firm on the opening possession and forced a punt by the Rocks. The Tomcats blocked the punt and recovered the loose ball at the SSC two-yard line.
It took just one play for the Tomcats to find the end zone as Daylon Collins scored with 10:39 left in the third quarter. Aiden Guinn converted on the PAT to knot the score at 7-7.
The Tomcat defense stiffened on the ensuing drive and forced another punt by the Rocks. Keena Galloway returned the kick 68 yards for a touchdown with 8:46 left in the third quarter. Guinn’s PAT made the score 14-7.
The Rocks answered moving the ball down the field with tosses from Rioz to Isaiah Haynes (20) and Galloway (8, 24) before he found Levi Green for an 8-yard scoring toss with 4:00 left in the third quarter. Noel’s PAT knotted the score at 14-14.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Heith Shinn stripped the ball and Sam Lejeune recovered the ball at the Tomcat 35-yardline.
Rioz hit Ben Brewer for a 35-yard scoring aerial with 3:35 left in the third quarter. The PAT was blocked leaving the score 20-14.
On the following drive, the Rocks stood firm and forced another fumble that was recovered by John Scott Stassi stopping a Tomcat drive.
Two possessions later, Noel ended the Rock scoring for the game with 32-yard field goal with 2:34 left in the game to make the final score 23-14.
SSC head coach Tim Lala stated, “We had a few big-time plays go our way in the third quarter that helped us gain some momentum. We had some difficulty getting off the field on defense throughout the game, but we stayed true to the game plan. We had some solid performances on both sides of the ball tonight, but we still need to iron out a few things this week as we prepare to open our division schedule this week against a talented Tylertown team. This is an opponent and a week that scares you as a coach. They make you earn every down.”
The Rocks were led by Ian Gonzalez Rioz who totaled 423 yards of offense as he rushed 10 times for 151 yards and threw for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ethan Galloway led the receivers with 7 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Jacob Bradford totaled 12 tackles including a sack and four hurries. Chesley Rhodes finished with 11 tackles and Sam Lejeune added seven tackles with seven quarterback hurries.
The Rocks (4-1) are set to open the Division 8-3A schedule when Tylertown journeys ‘between the walls’ on tonight. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.