Local Sports

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Football: St. Joseph stays atop league by beating Hopewell-Loudon


FREMONT -- Fans watching a pair of teams that scored a combined 82 points last weekend may have been hoping for more offense from Hopewell-Loudon and Fremont St. Joseph, but they were treated instead to solid defense.

St. Joseph quarterback Zach Yeckley twice hit Jordan Sessler with touchdown passes and Marcus Kerr broke free for a 48-yard scoring run as the Crimson Streaks beat the Chieftains 18-13 in a Midland Athletic League matchup Friday.

St. Joe (6-1, 4-0 MAL) compiled 312 total yards, including 148 in the air, while holding H-L (4-3, 3-1) to 234.

"Hopewell-Loudon's a very good football team," Streaks coach Scott Knisley said. "We knew coming into it you don't look at their record, being 4-2, they lost to two state-ranked teams and they're a very good football team, there's no question about that.

"I was very happy with the way our kids played tonight. We weren't going to use the weather as an excuse. We didn't throw the ball as much as we wanted to, but we've got a good running game. I thought the offensive line played excellent, I thought the receivers blocked, when we did have to throw it we were able to do it."

The Streaks' defense proved stingy in the first half, holding the Chieftains to three-and-outs on each of their first three possessions.

Sessler gave St. Joe a 6-0 lead with 11:34 remaining in the second quarter when he pulled in a Yeckley pass for a 5-yard touchdown to complete a 59-yard, 13-play drive in 5 minutes, 26 seconds.

Later in the quarter, Hopewell-Loudon put together its first sustained drive of the game, moving the ball 63 yards to the SJCC 19-yard-line before an intentional grounding call on third-and-8 pushed the Chieftains back to the 34 with just six seconds remaining in the first half. Alex Gregg's pass on fourth-and-23 fell incomplete and the Streaks carried a 6-0 lead into halftime.

"You've got to be able to come away with points," Hopewell-Loudon coach Jeremy Nutter said.

"The grounding call was big, obviously, it kicked us out of field goal range. But I thought we put a good drive together the way we needed to. We've said all along we've got to stay away from turnovers, we've got to stay away from penalties. It wasn't the turnovers that got us tonight, it was the penalties."

Ryan Lommerse sparked the Chieftains when he picked off a Yeckley pass on the Streaks' first possession of the second half and returned it 17 yards to the 50. Mark Bouillon would tie the game with a 5-yard touchdown run to complete a 10-play, 50-yard drive and Adam Bour's kick put H-L up 7-6 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Yeckley connected with Sessler again for a 15-yard scoring pass with 11:17 left in the game. St. Joseph led 12-7 at that point.

After holding H-L to three-and-out on the ensuing possession, Kerr broke a tackle near the Chieftains 42-yard-line and sprinted for the end zone, completing a three-play, 54-yard drive in 1:30 to extend the St. Joe lead to 18-7 with 8:02 remaining in the game.

Gregg brought the Chieftains within five points when he hit Lommerse with a 12-yard scoring pass with just 21 seconds left in the game, pulling the score to 18-13. H-L went for two points, but Gregg's pass fell incomplete. Hopewell-Loudon tried an onside kick, but St. Joe's Brock Schultz fell on the ball and Yeckley took a knee to end the game.

"I thought we played well enough defensively to have the football a lot," Nutter said. "I don't think there's any shame in holding that team to 18 points.

"We should have probably made some more plays. I really felt like we were just a couple of plays short overall."

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