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Saints make statement vs. Potomac

September 30, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SAINT JAMES - Saturday's game was like a Rice Krispies treat for the St. James football team.

It was a snap, tackle and pop kind of day that made all the difference for the Saints in a 33-7 victory over Potomac School.

St. James got eight points off Potomac's opening snap and used Spencer Draper's touchdown-saving tackle in the third quarter to seize the momentum and set up quarterback Mike Russ to pop through the line for two decisive touchdowns that put the Mid Atlantic Conference game on ice.

"This was really big," said Russ, who scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards as the Saints relied on veer option plays in the second half to move the ball. "We had a talk last Friday (after losing to Sidwell Friends), and the seniors wanted to come out and beat this team on our last time around and win the conference title."

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St. James (2-2, 1-1) made a statement, but the Panthers did their best to help the Saints out along the way.

The game started with Potomac School (3-1, 0-1) starting on its own 6 after the opening kickoff and promptly sending the first snap out of a shotgun formation out of the end zone for a safety.

The Panthers' ensuing kickoff got away from St. James' Barrett Brown, who tracked the ball down on the left sideline and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown for an eight-point lead before the Saints' offense took the field.

The Saints even withstood the charge of the Panthers' Spencer Gopaul, who rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, but Potomac School offset his performance and three more touchdowns with 12 penalties for 90 yards.

St. James got field goals of 30 and 37 yards by Ben Farquhar - the latter on the final play of the half - for a precarious 14-7 lead at the intermission.

The Panthers continued to pound Gopaul in the line and moved for a first-and-goal at the St. James 2 midway in the third quarter. Gopaul ran for two scores, both erased by illegal procedure penalties.

On fourth down at the 11, quarterback Edwin Kuhn connected with Michael Duffy in the right flat. Duffy tried to leg it to the corner of the end zone, but Draper closed and brought him down at the 2 to give St. James the ball on downs.

"I dropped back to cover and saw the guy out of the corner of my eye after he beat the outside linebacker," Draper said. "I left my guy just tried to hit him as hard as I can."

It was the very thing St. James needed.

"That was a big hit," St. James coach Chick Meehan said. "That was the game. (Gopaul) had a great game. We had trouble stopping him."

The Saints took over and engineered a 98-yard drive with Russ getting involved by running after ball fakes on the option and Brown's running up the middle. Russ ended the 4-minute, 53-second drive with a sneak from the 1 for a 21-7 lead.

"It worked because Mike handles the ball so well," Meehan said. "He has good ball fakes and it gets a little sneaky."

St. James put together a 14-play, 77-yard drive, taking 8:36, in the fourth quarter, leading to Russ' second touchdown. The Saints ended the game when David Cook intercepted Kuhn on the final play and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown.

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