Well, just when you thought that 2020 had nothing else in the “I have never seen that before” category, welcome to Thursday night for the Saint Mary’s Tigers. Saint Mary’s traveled to Northwood Lena for continuation of district action after betting LaSalle the previous week on homecoming. The Tigers were looking to improve their record and go 3-2 on the season. The Tiger’s received the opening kick on their 37 and went to work on offense with Adam Parker in command. Saint Mary’s only needed 13 plays to drive from there and score the first points of the game. They take the early 6 – 0 lead.
Northwood is a team that has struggled for several seasons but not any longer. They receive the kick and go to their double tight double wing formation and start to pound the ground toward the endzone. #45 Jermiah Price is a formidable force on the field 290 lbs. of kinetic energy. The Gators start at the 40 and run with and behind price to score. Price caps the drive with a one-handed reception coming out of the backfield. The extra point is no good and the score is tied. Saint Mary’s receives and coughs up the ball giving the Gators good field position.
Northwood capitalizes on the good fortune and score with Price bowling over Tiger defenders. The initial attempt at a two-point conversion is no good but a penalty on the play allows a retry. On the second attempt the try is good, and Northwood takes a 14 – 6 lead in early second quarter action. A spectacular kick return sets up the Tigers at the Gator 18. Graeme Fidelak rushes from there on the next play to score quickly for the Tigers. The PAT is ruled no good, SMH 12, Northwood 14. After the kick, the switch was flipped.
NO really, the electrical switch was flipped, and the lights went out in Northwood.
The power went out in the middle of the game. There it is, the I have never seen it before moment that chalks up another 2020 surprise. Now quite the conundrum ensues as to what to do in the middle of an important district contest in a football game that is close and only in the beginning of the second quarter. An answer is found in continuing play at Tioga high school. Load the busses, pack the gear, bundle up and mark the spot of the ball and change venues. Northwood has the ball when play resumes and continues to employ the rugby scrum approach to football by running the punishing ground game with Price. The drive continues eating up game clock and culminates in a Gator score and successful two-point conversion. Gators 22, Tigers 12.
Saint Mary’s receives the kick and starts their first possession on the new arena at their own 35. Adam Parker connects on the first play for a 25-yard gain, but time expires on the drive and the quarter. The Tigers go into the locker room trailing Northwood for the first time in recent memory. The Tigers attempt an onside kick to start third quarter action but are unable to come up with the ball. Northwood takes possession but the Tiger defense has made halftime adjustments and halts the Gators for the first time. The teams exchange punts and Tigers have the ball. Five plays later one of which is a 22-yard run and another 32-yard pass before Drake Griffin runs in the touchdown from four yards out. The PAT is good off the toe of Williams. Tigers 19, Gators 22.
Saint Mary’s defense forces another turn over on downs. A seventeen-yard passing touchdown from Adam Parker is followed by a two-point conversion. Saint Mary’s 27, Northwood 22. The third quarter expires with the Gators in possession of the ball, but they punt to the Tigers two plays into the fourth quarter. The change of venue has favored Saint Mary’s and the offense is moving the ball. A fourteen-yard rushing TD caps the drive, and the two-point conversion is no good. Tigers 34, Gators 22.
The invigorated Tiger defense continues to stymie the Gators. The Gators face forth and fourteen when they punt to Saint Mary’s. The ill-fated kick hits a lineman on the helmet and is recovered by Dane Files at the Gator 49. Dane returns the punt for the score untouched down the sidelines. Payne Williams adds the point-after and the Tiger lead swells. Saint Mary’s 41, Northwood 22.
Saint Mary’s had the ball first and goal to go before kneeling to run out the clock and take the victory. Adam Parker completed 15 of 23 passes for 223 yards. His favorite targets were Ethan Busby with 6 catches for 95 yards and Dane Files with 4 catches for 70 yards. Saint Mary’s rushed for 116 yards on the night with a host of Tigers getting carries. Next up for St. Mary’s is a home game against Logansport. Logansport has been the big cat in District 3-1A for the last several years but both clubs are vying for the lead in district this season. Logansport is 3-0 having had to cancel a couple of games due to COVID-19.
This will be a huge game for the Saint Mary’s Tigers who seem to be hitting their stride and finally scoring when they get in the red-zone and improving on limiting penalties.