Riders Prevail

St. Marys’ Carson Fischbach (8) and teammate Ty Howell (12) celebrate after stopping Shawnee from converting a two-point conversion during Friday’s Western Buckeye League game.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Almost only counts in horseshoes.

St. Marys had three drives that almost yielded points in the second half that would have put the Roughriders' Western Buckeye League game with Shawnee on ice.

And Shawnee quarterback Johnny Caprella almost pulled an upset on the top-ranked Riders.

Almost.

Eerily similar to last season's match between the two teams at Skip Baughman Stadium, it came down to a two-point try by the senior Caprella, who reeled in the St. Marys' defensive line on a draw play, bolted upfield and leaped toward the goal line, just for the ball to be punched out and recovered by Ty Howell in the end zone to secure a 27-26 St. Marys' win.

Almost, but the Roughriders head home 3-0 in the WBL for the fourth straight season.

"Their fast guys really give us some problems today," Roughriders coach Doug Frye said. "I thought Caprella and Ford did an exceptional job, but we have to get better. We can't seem to string an entire football game together.

"We better do it quickly or we will be digging out of a hole."

St. Marys (4-0, 3-0 WBL) led the entire game, but after being stopped in three of its final four drives of the contest, Shawnee (1-3, 0-3) overcame a 14-point deficit on a 7-yard touchdown run by William Robertson and punctuated it by a Caprella 3-yard TD pass on an out route run by Christian Ford to pull within one, 27-26 with 14.3 seconds left.

In last year's game, Caprella pulled the game to within one in overtime with a 5-yard TD run, but was stuffed on an option run at the 1-yard line on a two-point try.

On Friday, Caprella lost the ball at the same yard line and the Riders hung on, while Shawnee will have to stick to just playing horseshoes.

Friday's game looked nothing like last season's matchup in the beginning, with St. Marys jumping out to a 14-0 lead on a Braeden Dunlap QB sneak and a 58-yard TD pass from Dunlap to Christian Triplett in its first two drives.

The Indians countered in the second quarter by spreading the Riders defense out and making them pay with Caprella racking up 29 yards on five carries and 45 passing yards en route to the first of his two TD passes — this one to Ryan Hefner to make it 14-7 with 10:08 left in the first half.

St. Marys countered with the help of a 63-yard kickoff return by Sean Perry — with the senior muscling his way with a 10-yard TD rush to go back up two scores after a bobbled snap and failed two-point try made it 20-7.

Caprella accounted for 43 of the 70 yards the Indians covered on their ensuing possession — culminated by a 4-yard rushing score by Caprella to close the deficit to 20-13 when Vorhees' kick was blocked. 

St. Marys had a golden opportunity to go back up two scores before the end of the half with 3:12 remaining as the Roughriders marched 49 yards to the Indians' 16-yard line, bringing on Gabe Vandever for a 34-yard field goal that missed wide left.

The Roughriders did, however, finish a drive in their opening possession of the second half that started on their own 41 yard line and ended with Dunlap sweeping out wide to the right for a 9-yard score to go up 27-13 with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Shawnee's defense tightened when it needed to, however, allowing the offense to pull within one point in the final 18:55.

After the Indians' ensuing drive ended in a three-and-out, St. Marys drove 38 yards to Shawnee's 32 yard line, but Howell was stuffed on fourth and 2 to force a turnover on downs.

Shawnee capitalized on its next drive with a 65-yard, 13-play TD possession that ended in Robertson making it a one-score contest.