Yesterday's game between St. Paul's and Cardinal Gibbons turned into a rain-soaked slugfest, and St. Paul's walked away from the mud with a 28-14 win.
This was a pivotal Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference meeting. Both teams are vying with Boys' Latin for the North Division crown, hoping to earn a spot in the inaugural conference championship game against the South Division winner.
Yesterday, host St. Paul's (5-2, 2-0) used a balanced attack to keep Gibbons on its heels for much of the game, totaling 21 first downs and 170 yards rushing on 42 carries. Senior quarterback John Yurek was the catalyst, completing 12 of 26 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
St. Paul's coach Dave Dolch said his team had the game circled on its schedule before the season started and was prepared for a physical matchup. He gave much credit to his offensive line, which opened holes for junior running back Zack Stonesifer, who led all rushers with 94 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
"We knew it was going to be a tough battle because those guys can run the football," Dolch said. "We knew we had to stop them and keep them from controlling the tempo of the game."
St. Paul's opened a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Yurek to Andrew Brown and a 12-yard run by Stonesifer.
But Gibbons didn't flinch. Early in the second quarter, Gibbons coach Donald Davis decided to pull his starting quarterback, junior Barry Nowell, for senior Raymond Lindsay, and the move paid off with just two seconds left in the half when a 38-yard pass from Lindsay to Antwarn Jones cut St. Paul's lead in half.
"Something had to give," Davis said of the quarterback switch. "We needed to see if we could get a spark from another guy; that's why you have more than 11 [players]. It doesn't fall on the shoulders of one kid. Sometimes you have to make a change to get the players energized. [Lindsay] gave us a spark and made a play."
However, St. Paul's responded in the third quarter when Brown caught his second touchdown pass of the game - a 27-yarder from Yurek. The quarterback then increased St. Paul's lead to 28-7 on a 3-yard run.