Whitmer defender Donnie Dottei makes a diving attempt to keep St. Francis quarterback Tom Joseph from reaching the end zone.
After an 0-3 start in the difficult non-league portion of its schedule, preseason City League football favorite St. Francis de Sales finally got a taste of victory last night, beating Whitmer 20-3 in a City League opener at Start.
Stocky 5-9, 199-pound senior tailback Cody Enos got untracked, delivering 148 yards on 22 carries, including second-half touchdown runs of seven and five yards for the four-time defending CL champion Knights, who snapped a five-game losing streak that dated back to last season.
The kids got enthused about playing the game of football again, Knight coach Dick Cromwell said. The first two weeks we were just kind of there and not competing. Something lit a spark last week, and we did it again tonight.
We ve got to try to win the rest of them out, and it s going to be tough. But it s nice to get started on the City League this way.
The win by St. Francis (1-0 CL, 1-3 overall), the preseason title favorite, kept Whitmer (0-1, 0-4) winless this year on the heels of back-to-back playoff seasons.
In a first half that included five turnovers four by Whitmer St. Francis took a 7-3 lead to the break.
Highlighting the 64-yard drive was a 34-yard keeper around right end by quarterback Tom Joseph, who was dragged down down at the 1 by Don Dottei.
Joseph sneaked over for the final yard and Sean Davis kick made it 7-0 with 5:31 left in the half.
When they turn it over four times in the first half and you only get one score, that concerns you, Cromwell said. But we finally got our tailback [Enos] going. He hit a couple big plays. The whole offense had been struggling, so I m sure he s happy to finally get something.
Richard Harris (12) intercepts a pass in the third quarter for Whitmer as Sean Davis pursues. But the Panthers were the most guilty of turnovers, giving the ball away five times.
Whitmer s Chris Laser took the ensuing kickoff back 46 yards to the Knight 44, and senior QB Nick Specht found tight end Kevin Koger over the middle for 26 yards on the next play. That set up Lovein Babona s 32-yard field goal 3:39 before halftime.
Specht, a third-year starter for the Panthers who has converted to quarterback, saw his first action this season because of a knee injury. He was 7-of-14 passing for 93 yards, but looked a bit rusty, losing two fumbles and throwing two interceptions.
The Knights used Whitmer s fifth and final turnover, a Tom Kurz interception of Specht, to set up a third-quarter TD.
After a 29-yard completion from Joseph to tight end Brad Smith put St. Francis at the Panther 25, Joseph ran for nine yards. Enos then went for 9 and 7 to cap the drive with 6:59 left in the third.
St. Francis Jordan Keel (42) dives for a first down as Ryan Ray (56), Don Dottei (15) and Richard Harris (12) try to stop him.
I ve got to thank my offensive line and the fullback for picking up all the blocks and giving me the holes to run through, Enos said. I didn t have to do very much.
It felt good to finally get a touchdown, and keep getting them instead of three and out or kicking field goals.
The biggest play of the game a 53-yard burst by Enos to the Whitmer 16 set up the final TD. On third-and-goal, Enos rammed over for the score from five yards out with 8:39 to play.
I don t know what to say about the turnovers because we ve done it throughout the year so far, Panther coach Dan Fought said. The inexperience is killing us, and then the guys we do have experience with are killing us at times, too. We ve got a ton of problems we re trying to figure out. We just haven t done it yet.
St. Francis topped Whitmer 272-169 in total offense. Joseph ran seven times for 51 yards, and DeWayne Frazier topped Whitmer with 44 yards on nine carries.
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