After a heartbreaking loss to rival Kennedy last week, the St. Mary’s High football team needed a game to get out some aggression while keeping everyone healthy. A game with Albany was just what the doctor ordered.
St. Mary’s jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead against the Cougars on Friday afternoon and cruised home with a 34-6 win. Tailback Trestin George ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries and quarterback Steve Murphy threw for two scores to wide receiver Courtney Brown in the victory.
“We knew if we played a good first half that we could get ahead of them,” St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson said. “It’s nice to get an easy win once in a while.”
The Panthers (4-4 overall, 2-1 BSAL) came into the game looking to put heat on Albany quarterback Harold Lueders, and they did just that. They sacked Lueders three times in the first quarter, including two by linebacker Omarr Flood, and knocked him out of the game early in the second quarter. His replacements, J.P. Koehn and Garin Hecht, were clearly in over their heads, completing just 6-of-23 for 83 yards with Lueders on the bench with a possible separated shoulder. Koehn, who played most of the second half, also threw two interceptions, including one that George returned 100 yards for a score.
“We have better athletes in our secondary than they have at receiver,” Lawson said. “We thought our defensive backs could man up and let us get a lot of heat on the quarterback, and we did that.”
Flood, who also had an interception to go with his two sacks, enjoyed the freedom to blitz for most of the game.
“Being aggressive is the name of the game on defense,” he said. “We sent them a message that we weren’t playing out there.”
Linebacker Julian Taylor got the ball rolling with a punt block on Albany’s (3-5, 0-3) opening possession, giving the St. Mary’s offense the ball on the 23-yard line. Two plays later, Murphy threw a quick pass to Brown, who juked one defender and found the end zone to open the scoring.
George came up big on the next drive, running three times for 54 yards. In fact, the entire series was on the ground, as St. Mary’s ran the ball seven times for 78 yards. George finished the drive with a spectacular 19-yard touchdown run during which he broke five tackles and destroyed one Albany defender on his way to the end zone. In fact, it looked as if George was actually looking for defenders to hit instead of the other way around.
“I was just hungry to run somebody over,” George said. “I lowered my shoulder, then put on a little shake. Then the last guy stepped up and I hit him as hard as I could.”
Brown put on a show of his own early in the second quarter, taking a short pass over the middle and turning it into a 55-yard score, juking two defenders and racing up the right sideline to make the score 22-0, a lead the Panthers took into halftime.
The second half was a slow-paced affair, with the Panthers looking to run out the clock and Albany unable to get anything going on offense. George took control early with runs of 19 and 20 yards on the first drive of the half, capping it with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Albany answered back with a good drive, keyed by a screen pass to running back Michael Estis for 34 yards that put the ball inside the St. Mary’s 10. Estis scored from a yard out sson after for Albany’s lone score of the day.
But the next Albany drive turned into George’s interception return, and it was clear there would be no comeback. All that was left was the self-destruction of the Albany offense, including an unforced fumble that St. Mary’s Jerrell Booker recovered and an easy interception by safety Jason Bolden-Anderson.