St. Joe's and St. Francis sure packed quite a bit into their Monsignor Martin Association league opener.
St. Joe's started a new quarterback. St. Francis switched theirs. St. Joe's scored 20 points and amassed 217 yards in the first quarter. St. Francis scored two touchdowns in the final 28 seconds of the second quarter. There was a total of 49 points in the first half, then none in the second as host St. Joe's beat St. Francis, 28-21, Saturday afternoon.
And there were 11 turnovers. Eight of the turnovers were committed by St. Francis, including four in a second half which was startlingly scoreless after a crowd of about 2,000 saw different flashes of fireworks early on.
Junior Nigel Davis, who made his first start at quarterback, threw one touchdown and had two interceptions on defense while senior Ilo Noble ran for three long touchdowns as No. 3 large school St. Joe's (3-0) held on in the second half.
"[Davis] did a nice job," said St. Joe's coach Dennis Gilbert. "We thought we'd be able to handle them up front and we'd be able to run the ball and we were successful."
Senior Tyler Hill, who started the first two games at quarterback, played at tight end and had three catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. He also was lauded by Gilbert for his work at defensive end.
"Tyler had a fantastic game," said Gilbert.
Noble was outstanding early on for the Marauders. He ran 12 times for 161 yards in the first half (he finished 15-163 after cramping up several times in the second half), including highlight touchdown runs of 25, 39 and 32 yards.
The runs put St. Joe's up, 28-6, early in the second quarter. St. Francis got back into the game when junior Elliot Buccieri scooped up an errant lateral and returned it 65 yards for a score 27.8 seconds before halftime. St. Francis recovered the ensuing kickoff, and 6-foot-4 junior Jacob Dolegala (he replaced senior quarterback Brian Melisz, who passed for one touchdown) threw a 21-yard score to brother Jarrett Dolegala, a 6-2 senior, who came down with the ball after it was tipped to make it 28-21 with 1.8 seconds left.
St. Francis (0-3) had the better of the play in the second half, but could not score despite moving inside the St. Joe's 35 four times. St. Francis had a fourth-down pass fall incomplete in the end zone after its first drive. The Red Raiders fumbled after a pass pushed them to the St. Joe's 35. After a poor punt gave St. Francis the ball at the St. Joe's 20 with 2:24 to go, Noble effectively ended the game with an interception.
"Can't make mistakes, can't turn the ball over like that," said St. Francis coach Jerry Smith. "And we still had a shot. If we put a full game together, maybe sometime we'll be all right."