By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
They say football can be a tale of two halves. In this case, they were right. The STMA Knights beat the St. Francis Saints 28-12 on a somewhat muggy night at St. Michael Middle School.
Junior quarterback Jackson Greenwaldt got the scoring started with a three yard touchdown run on a bootleg for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He finished 7 of 9 for 121 yards. Later in the same frame, St. Francis junior halfback John Santiago took a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Hunter Trautman 45 yards for an apparent game-tying score.
However, in a moment that defined the game, the Saints’ kicker missed the extra point, leaving the Knights clinging to a 7-6 lead. The score remained the same at halftime, as both defenses settled in. The missed PAT proved to be a major difference in the game.
Midway through the third quarter, it was still 7-6. Austin Wick, who caught several big passes in the game, caught a long one to set up a short touchdown run by Noah Evans. One extra point later, it was 14-6 Knights.
The Knights scored again late in the third on a second bootleg touchdown by Greenwaldt for a 15 point lead. St. Francis responded with a big kickoff return, slightly set back by a penalty, which set up a 27 yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
In a further example of how the missed PAT affected the game, the Saints failed on a two-point conversion, leaving the score 21-12. Later in the quarter, Chris Kartes rumbled for a 27 yard touchdown run which brought the lead back to 16 points for STMA. Kartes finished the game with 18 carries for 104 yards, notching another solid game under his belt.
The Knights defense took over from there. Evan Albrecht intercepted a pass on a late Saints drive which further halted St. Francis’s momentum. Jordan Joseph, who picked off a pass earlier in the game, followed suit with another pick, which sealed the game for STMA.
The Knights offense looked much more balanced this week compared to last week. Offensive coordinator Keith Cornell said the team worked out most of the kinks from last week.
“I think the kids just really stepped up and made plays, and we have great kids. Two really good quarterbacks, three-four really nice receivers that we really trust to make plays for us, and tonight they did that,” he said.
Cramps snuck up on the Knights during the game, and there was really no foolproof way to prepare, Cornell said.
“You’ve really got to hydrate two, three, four days before, kind of all week.”
The Knights had a bunch of new players on offense last week and this week, Cornell said.
“The kids have worked really, really hard offensively and, like it always is, our defense keeps us in games and tonight our offense just stepped up and made some plays to get us to that 2-0 spot.”
The Knights stay home and take on the Monticello Magic tomorrow night at 7 p.m.