Before the season St. Vincent football coach Nathan Rowland said their defense would be the key to the team’s success this season. But on Friday night in the regular season finale, the Indian offense set the tone.
The Indians scored 28 first half points, and came up with key defensive stops in the second half as the Indians captured a victory in the regular season finale 35-26.
After an interception with four minutes left by Jefferson as St. Vincent (6-3) clung to the final nine point margin. Tyler Unterreiner came up the field and put a big hit on the Bluejay running back to force a fourth down with four yards to go. That’s when the biggest stop of the night happened for the Indians, Matt Rellergert and Unterreiner sacked the quarterback to give the ball back to the offense. Riley Riehn and the Indian offense picked up a few first downs to seal the win.
The offense did the heavy lifting in the first half however. Riehn made plays of 11 yards on the ground 35 through the air on the opening drive. Tyler Monier threw a swing pass and Riehn did the rest to cap the opening drive and dive the Indians a 7-0 lead.
St. Vincent went unconventional and kicked an onside kick to open every Jefferson drive. The first one however suprised everyone including Jefferson. Darren Ernst swooped in and recovered the loose ball to set up the second consecutive drive.
The Indians made it count as a nice play action call opened up a throwing lane for Monier. He connected with Unterrenier for 50 yards to the three-yard line. Two plays later, Monier scored on a quarterback sneak to take a 14-0 lead.
One of those key defensive stops happened midway through the first quater. Jefferson had good field position at the Indians 35-yard line after a fluky interception when Monier’s arm was hit. Jefferson got the ball to the 13-yard line when the Indians forced a fumble and recovered the football.
Jefferson got their offense going in the second quarter as their running back took over. Less than a minute into the frame, the Bluejays Anthony Graves scored from 20 yards away to get the Bluejays on the board at 14-6.
The Indians defense came up big again on the next Bluejay drive as Rellergert stopped the Bluejays on third and two, deep in their own territory. Austin Dauster came up even bigger turning the Bluejays over on downs with a stop behind the line.
The Indians took advantage of the stop, and turned into another scoring drive capped by Unterriner. This time the key play was turned in by Blake Hellman and his 45 yard catch with three minutes left in the half.
The Bluejays scored just a minute later with a 50 yard touchdown run by Graves pulling them with 28-12.
The Indians were looking for any type of momentum shift and they got it in the form of a 50- yard catch by Riehn with a facemask call on top of it, moving the ball up to the 11-yard line.
Unterreiner made it count with a six yard catch over the middle with 54 second left to go into half up 28-12.
What may have been the biggest factor in the game for the Indians ability to stop the Blejays on their two point conversions. Of the four touchdowns, the Bluejays only converted one two point attempt.
None of them bigger than in the opening stages of the third quarter.
The Bluejays scored with nine minutes left in the third quarter to bring them within 28-18. But the two point conversion was stopped keeping the game at a two possession game. The team’s traded punts until the waning seconds of the quarter. A pass interference penalty brought the ball to the 13 yard line giving the Indians new life. Gabe Naegar came through with a 12-yard touchdown catch and a 35-18, putting the Indians ahead for good.
The Indians open district play with a home game against Portageville on Friday at St. Vincent High School at 7 p.m.