ST. MARYS, OH – For the second straight year the St. Marys Roughriders earned a home playoff game based on the strength of their regular season, and for the second straight year the Riders thumped their Week 11 opponent in said game.
Behind 41 first half points and a dominating defensive effort St. Marys rolled through the running clock to a 48-8 opening round victory Friday night in what could possibly be their last home game at Skip Baughman Stadium by downing visiting Highland.
After failing to score on their opening possession, the Roughrider offense wasted no time on their second chance with the football and pushed ahead for good at 7-0 when Junior Sean Perry scampered 9 yards virtually untouched into the endzone with 3:29 remaining in the opening quarter to give his team the first points of the contest.
In what would come to be a precursor to the rest of his night, Drew Jacobs picked off a Highland pass and set his team up at the Fighting Scots 38 yard line. Following a pair of touches by Ty Schlosser that resulted in a first down, QB Colin Clements tossed a 52 yard scoring strike to Braeden Dunlap to push the St. Marys lead to 14-0.
Highland’s next possession began with great field position at the Roughrider 47 thanks to a big kick return but got stopped almost as soon as it got started as they were unable to pick up a fourth down conversion and were forced to give the ball back to the home squad at their 32 midway through the second stanza.
Over the course of 2:08 the top ranked offense in the Western Buckeye League marched 62 yards to put themselves ahead by a trio of scores as Dunlap this time did the work himself on the ground and scored his third rushing touchdown of the season with an 11 yard jaunt.
Drew Jacobs second of three interceptions on the evening put a stop to another Highland drive just two plays after it got started once the defensive unit found its way back to the field and gave St. Marys the football at their opponents 22 yard line with 5:53 left in the opening half.
Entering Friday nights game St. Marys TE Wyatt Barhorst had caught just a pair of passes in his career for 14 yards. On Friday night Barhorst got his first of two opportunities to celebrate a touchdown reception as he caught a laser from Colin Clements to push his team ahead by a 28-0 margin from 19 yards out for his first career score.
Starting their next drive after forcing another Scots punt the Riders again wasted no time putting points on the board as Dunlap rushed in from 30 yards out for a score to run the lead to 34-0 with 4:40 remaining in the half.
Perhaps the only thing to go wrong in the first half for St. Marys followed immediately after the touchdown as kicker Gabe Vandever who had connected on a school record 71 consecutive extra points in his career and 50 straight on the season missed right on his 5th attempt of the evening.
The final score of the first half for St. Marys came with just :20 left before the halftime break when Barhorst caught his second touchdown pass of the night, a 25 yard tally on a fake field goal and pass from Clements. In scoring his second receiving effort of the night, Barhorst became the 12th Roughrider to have accomplished that feat in a single game and sent his troops into the locker room up 41-0.
Behind a running clock in the second half both teams were forced to pick up the tempo of their offenses which had already been in high gear pace wise in the opening two quarters.
Having picked up just 56 yards on 27 plays in the first half the Scots were looking to get things going their way in the third quarter but saw their time with the ball be short lived as Christian Triplett picked up a fumble at their 35 for St. Marys.
Three plays is all it took for Dunlap to strike again, this time from 25 yards away and provide the last Roughriders score at the 7:31 mark of the third period.
An overthrown pass by Highland QB Reese Weissenfluh found its way to the waiting arms of Jacobs again with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter and gave the Riders the ball at their own 5 and put a stop to the Scots deepest drive of the contest to that point.
With 19.9 seconds remaining the Roughriders chances of posting their first playoff shutout since 1993 when they blanked Uniontown Lake to win the State Championship came to an end when Weissenfluh raced in from 11 yards out for just his second rushing touchdown of the season. Brody Matthews added the two point conversion for Highland before time ran out in the contest to make the final score 48-8 St. Marys.
Highland, who finished as KMAC Champions this season sees their 2017 campaign come to an end at 8-3 in the first playoff appearance since the 2010.
St. Marys (10-1) has won 10 straight games and 7 straight now at Skip Baughman Stadium dating back to last seasons 42-8 opening round playoff win over Dayton Belmont. The Roughriders will move on to week 12 to do battle with the 11-0 Shelby Whippets and Minnesota bound signal caller Brennan Armstrong on Friday night at 7:30pm at Marion Harding High School.
Braeden Dunlap led the St. Marys rushing attack with his first 100 plus yard effort of the season as he finished with 10 carries for 107 yards and a pair of scores. Sean Perry picked up 72 yards and a touchdown as well. In all the Roughriders rushed 38 times for 252 yards while using three players tossing passes that finished 5/10 for 124 yards and three scoring efforts in the victory.
Historical note: Heading into Week 12 this years team has scored 423 points which puts them as the 5th highest scoring offense in school history by points scored.
By connecting on 6/7 extra points on the night, Gabe Vandever broke the schools all-time extra points record previously held by Jeff Hughes with 119 successful attempts. Vandever has now hit on 124 in his career heading into next weekends contest with Shelby.