It took a couple of crooked numbers on the scoreboard for St. Mary’s High to get rid of a round number on its record.
Steve Murphy led the Panthers (1-2) to their highest scoring output of the season, throwing for a touchdown, catching a touchdown pass and returning a kick for a touchdown in St. Mary’s first win of the season, 29-18 over De Anza (1-2).
Up 21-18 with 11:32 left in the game, Murphy took the kickoff, which the Panthers chose to rekick after the initial kick went out of bounds, and took it back 80 yards for a touchdown.
“I fielded the ball in the middle, then I cut back and waited for the crease to open. I saw the hole and I hit it hard. Everybody stayed on their blocks,” said Murphy, who started the game at quarterback and also played running back, wide receiver and defensive back.
Murphy’s run squashed the momentum of the Dons, who on the previous play had narrowed the St. Mary’s lead to three on quarterback Gregg Parker’s touchdown run on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line.
In the second quarter St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson put in sophomore quarterback Scott Tully and rotated the speedier Murphy to running back and wide receiver.
“We are doing anything we can to get Steve the ball... and Scott throws a great ball and he’s tall,” said Lawson, who added that having the 6-foot-3 Tully on the field at quarterback allowed him to rest Murphy at times.
Tully hooked up with Murphy on the Panthers’ first drive of the second quarter when he lobbed up a 54-yard post pass that Murphy caught well behind the defender.
“I just ate up his cushion,” said Murphy, who agreed with Tully that the two have good chemistry on the field from both having played quarterback and playing together for a some time.
“It kind of gives a variety to our offense. [Murphy] is really athletic and that brings out the full potential of our offense.” said Tully, who on the touchdown pass said he noticed the Dons had “eight men in the box and I saw Steve had man to man coverage, so I just threw it up.”
Linebacker Nick Osborn was another versatile player for St. Mary’s, anchoring a defense that had constant pressure on the Dons’ quarterbacks and was able to stuff their misdirection running game.
“Our outside backers made plays. We just had to stay in our lanes and wait for them to come to us,” said Osborn who caught a 15-yard touchdown pass as a tight end from Murphy in the first quarter to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
“We had a bunch of warriors out there tonight,” Lawson said.