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Sleight of hand

Last-second lunge allows Saints to nip Viking

Last-second lunge allows Saints to nip Viking

November 06, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

ST. JAMES /b> Developing storylines were in abundance as a Saturday matinee between St. James and St. John's at Prospect Hall became not so "saintly."

There were three player ejections, one was taken to the hospital for observation, St. James head coach Chick Meehan withstood a collison that sent him sprawling on the sidelines, two players each scored three touchdowns, another had three interceptions.

Each were part of a physically, and emotionally-filled skirmish, but it was one right hand in the right place that made all the difference in attributing the thrill of victory to St. James and the agony of defeat to St. John's at Prospect Hall.

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St. James junior defensive back Drew St. Lawrence played his position pefectly as he defended against Randal Smedley in the endzone and knocked away a pass with his right hand at the last moment with 2:38 to play that turned back a St. John's conversion attempt and help preserve a 21-20 victory for the Saints.

The Vikings (7-2) had just scored on a 44-yard pass play from Nick Schultze to Smedley to close the gap to 21-20 and St. John's coach John Ricca had no thougths other than trying a two-point conversion.

Schultze dropped back, faded briefly to his left and aimed at Smedley on a quick slant. As the football appeared to be headed straight into Smedley's hands, St. Lawrence reacted and knocked the ball away.

"We were in a man cover and I was just able to get a good look and jump in on him," said St. Lawrence.

"This is such a big win for our program," said Meehan. "Our defense came to play.

In the waning moments and the Vikings making a final effort to move from their own 16 with one time out remaining, junior Eddie Dorsey pilfered his third pass with 17 seconds remaining.

"Never had three interceptions in a game," said Dorsey. "This was such a physical game, probably the most physical all year. We really wanted to get this game."

Tempers flared on each side of the football from the beginning of the game, which saw teams trading scoring drives on their initial possessions.

The Saints used a 44-yard run by Mike Siegel to set up a 1-yard run by Shannon Strange, the first of his three scores.

The Vikings came right back, marching 70 yards and scoring on a 1-yard run by Smedley.

Then, Meehan took a blow on the sideline when Smedley was driven out of bounds, hushing the crowd until he bounced to his feet with hat and sunglasses in hand.

"That was the third time I got hit like that this year," said Meehan, the back side of his white shirt soiled and ripped at the collar. "The guys told me I have to wear the same shirt next week."

The Saints (6-2) will have a chance to tie for the Mid Atlantic League title when they travel to Flint Hill.

Strange gave the Saints a 13-6 lead with a 56-yard scoring run as he made a juke move on Scott Ritter at the 10-yard mark to reach the end zone.

But junior Jimmy Sutch was ejected by officials for excessive retalliation against the Vikings, leaving the Saints with a 35-yard PAT conversion kick that failed.

"That hurt losing (Sutch) but we showed that the rest of the kids ran the ball really well," said Meehan.

As they did to open the game, both teams scored on their first possessions of the second half.

The Vikings stormed to a score when Smedley ran in from 5 yards out after a 33-yard pass completion from Schultze to Ritter reached the Saints' 10. Smedley then ran a quick dive for a successful two-point conversion and 14-13 lead for St. John's.

St. James answered with an 80-yard march, highlighted by Nik Holtz's 35-yard completion to Dorsey, with Strange banging in from the 4-yard line. Strange bulled over for the two-point conversion and a 19-14 Saints lead with 5:48 left in the third period.

In the interim to the final dramatics, the Vikings lost John Magro and Bart Sapp via ejections as nerves frayed and tempers boiled.

"(St. James) hurt us running the ball," said Ricca. "They derserved to win. This might have been the most physical game all year. They surprised us and took it to us. But, we had a great season."

Strange led St. James with 123 yards rushing on 23 carries as the Saints piled up 336 yards, including 255 on the ground. The Vikings had 321 total yards, 94 coming on the ground by Smedley and 219 through the air by Schultze.

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