DULUTH, Minn. (csssaints.com) – The St. Scholastica football team, led by its seniors, defeated the Crown Storm 45-13 at Ordean Stadium on the campus of Duluth East on Saturday afternoon.
This was the final home game of the year for the Saints and their 19 seniors. To date this senior class has a record of 27-12.
The Saints would make quick work of their opening drive consuming just over two minutes on the clock before Tyler Harper connected for his first touchdown of the day to Cory Gebhard from 40 yards out in the game fourth play from scrimmage. Mike Theismann's PAT was good to make the score 7-0.
Crown (2-6, 1-5 UMAC) would receive the kickoff and start at its own 33-yard line. Despite having seven plays on the drive, the Storm stalled and would be forced to punt. An illegal block in the back by CSS would mean a starting position at their own 11-yard line.
Thomas Fragale would take the hand-off to the left side of the field and ran the ball 80 yards to the nine-yard-line before being tackled. Two plays later Chris Gassert would run the ball in from six yards out to make the score 14-0 with Theismann's PAT. Fragale's run tied for the longest play in school history.
The Saints defense would get the ball back to its offense quickly forcing a three-and-out from the Storm offense. Gebhard's punt return set the Saints up to start their drive at their own 29.
The Saints would utilize four rushes and three passes on their next drive for a balanced offensive attack that culminated with a seven-yard pass from Harper to Nick Thiry for his second touchdown pass of the day. Theismann's extra point made the score 21-0.
After both teams would exchange punts, the Storm started their drive in CSS territory. On third and long Alec French picked off his third ball of the year and returned it 39 yards to the Storm 41.
A personal foul for 15 yards and a Gassert run of 15 yards would set up another Harper to Thiry connection for a score, this time from nine yards out for the same result. Mike Theismann would make the score 28-0 in favor of the home team.
The teams would combine for zero total yards over the next two drives and would exchange punts. The Storm would start their next drive with 7:17 left to go in the second quarter at the Saints 39-yard line. On fourth and four the Saints looked to get off the field after an incomplete pass but a pass interference call gave the Storm life. Four plays later, Wes Safford connected with Jacob Pardee from eight yards out for the touchdown. Zack Dubanoski blocked the extra point to make the score 28-6.
The Saints would get on the board again before the half as Theismann remained perfect in his career on field goals with a 25 yarder to make the score 31-6 to end the first half.
It was a different picture in the third quarter as Crown outgained the Saints 94-18, but the score would remain the same. On the final possession of that third quarter, Jordan Rasmussen would sack Crown's Wes Stafford on fourth down. That play would spark the Saints offense on their next possession.
Freshman quarterback Jimmy Giese would lead the Saints drive as they started at their own 36. It was the freshmen Gassert and Giese leading the way for the Saints on the drive combining for all the yards, either through the air or on the ground. It would be Gassert who would cap off the drive from 16 yards out to make the score 38-6 with Theismann's PAT.
At the end of Crown's next drive it was time for history. The defensive unit of the Saints would force the final Crown punt of the day, setting up Thomas Fragale for the first punt return touchdown in school history. Fragale received the punt at his own 24 yard line and would run his way 76 yards into the history books. Theismann's PAT would make the score 45-6 in favor of the Saints.
John Mike would end the Storm's next possession with his first interception in a Saints uniform. After a CSS punt, Crown would close out the scoring on the day with a 5-yard run from Wes Safford. The extra point from Kurt Fickle gave a final score of 45-13.
Crown gained 256 yards total, 184 of those coming from Wes Safford on 14-for-31 with a TD and an INT. Safford also gained 53 yards on the ground to lead the Storm in rushing as well as the late touchdown.
Jordan Pardee and Zach Jusczak led the Storm defensively with nine and eight tackles, respectively. Jusczak had 2.5 tackles for loss as well as a sack.
Tyler Harper was 13-for-20 for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Thiry was the leading receiver with seven catches for 61 yards and two TD's on his final home game as a Saint. Fragale had 235 all-purpose yards on the day (106 coming on the ground, 53 receiving and 76 on the punt return TD).
Defensively Tyler Zurn had an outstanding game with 11 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. Alec French was close behind with 10 tackles, a sack and the INT. As a unit the Saints had 12 tackles for loss and four sacks.
The Saints (6-2, 5-1) will be on the road the rest of the way as they take on non-conference opponent, Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota at 1 p.m. next Saturday. All of the action can be heard live on Saints Sports Net.