Saint Mary’s football team took to the road Friday night to play Grant. It was Grant’s homecoming, and the Tigers were trying to be the spoiler. Great fall weather greeted both teams but Grant was playing on short rest after rescheduling their previous weeks game to Monday after hurricane Delta affected the area. Grant had been the team known to give up almost assured power points for their competition in the past, but this is a new team with a new head coach.
The Cougars were averaging greater than 50 points per game in their first two contests. Running back Kareem Gaines had been attacking the ground while QB Brady Parker aired it out. The Cougars won the coin toss and opened play receiving the kick from Saint Mary’s. The Tiger defense stopped the Cougars forcing them to punt. Saint Mary’s started their first possession on their own 2 yard-line. Adam Parker and the offense mixed pass and run equally, starting with about a 40 strike to Ethan Busby and culminating in a touchdown run by Graeme Fidelak.
Payne Williams added the PAT. 7 – 0 Saint Mary is up early.
The next Cougar possession was like the first with a punt to Saint Mary’s after Dane Files breaks up a long pass. Saint Mary’s progressed to the Cougar 30 before turning the ball over on downs. Grant again goes three and out. The snap to the punter is over his head but he gets the punt off setting up Saint Mary’s on their 45. The first quarter ends one play later and the Tiger offense is looking good driving the ball to the Cougar 10, then stalling. Williams is called on for a field goal attempt. The kick is high enough and long enough but ruled no good missing just to the right.
Grant takes over at the 20 and #4 Kareem Gaines goes to work setting up a short touchdown run by his QB Parker and the two-point conversion succeeds. Cougars 8 – Tigers 7. After the kick and good return, St. Mary’s is backed up by a penalty and Adam Parker, trying to connect deep, is intercepted and Grant is set up at the Tiger 30. The Cougar possession on offense is aided by a Tiger penalty and Grant capitalizes with a 4-yard touchdown run and the point after is good. Cougars 15 – Tigers 7. The ensuing Tiger possession progresses to the Cougar 30.
Facing third and a manageable 3 yards, Adam Parker has a false start making the first down attempt difficult and the Tigers turn over on downs. Grant runs the clock dry to go into the half-time break leading 15 – 7. Saint Mary’s starts the second half with the ball. The offense is looking good, moving the football to the Grant 9 before things unravel and Adam Parker throws another interception that Grant advances to their 40. A long series ensues for the Cougars, but they turn over on downs. Saint Mary’s, unable to garner a first down, elects to punt.
The snap is high over Vienne’s head and Grant has possession on the Tiger 2. One play later and Grant scores but the PAT fails. Grant 21, St. Mary’s 7.
The third quarter expires on the second play after the kick. Saint Mary’s punts back to Grant and the Cougar offense starts to wear down the Tigers. A long-sustained clock eating possession ends with a short touchdown run and the point after is good. Cougars 28, Tigers 7. After the kick, St. Mary’s has the ball at their 40 and Andrew Godfrey is in at QB. He is stripped of the ball on first down and Grant takes over after the fumble. A few plays are all Grant needs to propel Gaines 28 yards to pay dirt, PAT is good. Cougars 35 – Tigers 7.
The Saint Mary’s Tigers again drive well but a holding penalty negates a pass that would have set up first and goal to go on the Cougar’s 10. Grant takes over on downs and runs out the clock to win 35-7 and is 3-0 for the first time in a long time. Costly penalties, interceptions, and late undisciplined play result in the loss for Saint Mary’s. The Tigers were flagged 12 times for 140 penalty yards.
District play starts this week for the Tigers against LaSalle. It will be homecoming week for St. Mary’s and Coach Aaron York will be tasked with keeping his squad focused this week. The Tigers must find a way to decrease costly penalties.
Saint Mary’s moved the ball well on offense with Fidelak gaining over a hundred rushing yards and Adam Parker throwing for 160. The defense shut down the Grant passing game, but Kareem Gaines gained 174 rushing yards.
Can Saint Mary’s focus on the task at hand and re-group to win homecoming?