St. Paul's starts slow, beats Hereford, 27-12

September 10, 1994|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

St. Paul's coach Brian Abbott had a tough task heading into the season opener last night at Hereford.

Abbott was replacing Mitch Tullai, who had been the St. Paul's head man for 41 years. And things didn't start off well for Abbott when Hereford's Darrell Mudd grabbed the opening kickoff and raced for an 89-yard touchdown.

But things improved for Abbott and St. Paul's after that. Tucker ++ Radebaugh accounted for 134 yards total offense and one touchdown and J. R. Sanchez scored twice as St. Paul's defeated Hereford, 27-12, in the season opener for both teams.

Abbott said he was nervous. He called the first game of each season "the great unknown." But he said having Tullai around helped calm him.

Tullai stayed on as an assistant coach and prowled the sidelines like always. Abbott played for Tullai and coached for him and said having him there did not bother him.

"We both love the kids," Abbott said. "We're working for the same goal. He's a nice guy to have on the sideline."

Tullai said that they've spent so much time together makes the transition that much easier.

"He knows what I like to do, and I know what he [likes] to do," Tullai said. "It's another dimension of our relationship."

What made both enjoy this game was the way the St. Paul's offense took charge after the slow start. Radebaugh paced the offense that finished with 155 yards rushing and 95 yards passing.

St. Paul's was hurt last week when starting tailback Chris Berrier broke a bone in his foot and was lost for four weeks. Abbott then started freshman Conor Gill at quarterback and moved Radebaugh from quarterback to running back.

The opening kickoff made it tougher for St. Paul's, but the Crusaders bounced back. Radebaugh nearly broke the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, going 41 yards.

The Crusaders then drove 46 yards on seven plays, capped by a 15-yard Sanchez run. David Rauch added the extra point with 8:24 left in the quarter, and St. Paul's never trailed again.

"I felt really good when the next time [after the kick return] we had the ball, we took it right down and scored," Abbott said. "This is a young team, and I was concerned how they'd rebound."

St. Paul's slowly took command. Radebaugh added a 9-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left in the quarter, and it stayed 13-6 until the third quarter.

That's when Radebaugh, who had taken some snaps in the first half, went in at quarterback and stayed for most of the remainder of the game. Radebaugh (66 yards, 17 carries) ran three drives, ** and the Crusaders scored on two of them. He ran half of a fourth drive, and St. Paul's drove deep into Hereford territory before fumbling.

"When I came in, it was less confusing for the offensive line," Radebaugh said. "They're more used to my plays."

Sanchez scored on a 5-yard run, and Josh Deckelbaum added a 3-yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 27-6. Roy Collins added the other Hereford touchdown on a 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

Hereford fought until the end. The Bulls' strong lines gave St. Paul's trouble, and Hereford moved the ball all game, finishing with 163 yards rushing.

"I thought we played [well]," Hereford coach Frank Ewing said. "St. Paul's did a great job."

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