Notre Dame makes short work of West St. Mary
BALDWIN – For the first time this season, Notre Dame won a coin toss. About all that proved was West St. Mary wasn’t going to win anything at all last Thursday night.
The Pios defense forced two fumbles and four punts on six first half possessions. West St. Mary managed just two first downs, one on a penalty and the other on an 11-yard quarterback scramble, and the Wolf Pack totaled only 12 total yards of offense before the half.
The Pios’ offense scored the first three times it had the ball and five times in a quarter and a half. Starters on both sides of the ball retired to the sideline midway through the second quarter as Notre Dame beat the Wolf Pack, 35-6.
“They played hard until the end, but not very disciplined and we didn’t want to pile it on them,” noted Pio coach Lewis Cook. “There were a few things we felt we could do that they wouldn’t be able to handle and it worked out for us.”
Defensive linemen Nate Link and Conner Kirsch powered through for a third down sack that set the Pios up in Wolf Pack territory less than two minutes into the game. Brad Stoma ran 22 yards for a first down at the 21 yard line and three plays later Jeff Michael Daigle scored from five yards out for a 7-0 lead with 8:20 on the first quarter clock.
West St. Mary fumbled it back to the Pios seconds later when linebacker Hunter Stelly forced a loose ball tackling Wolf Pack tailback Darian Dwyer and Pio Mathew Hanks recovered at the WSM 19 yard line. John Michael Besse gained six and after an incomplete pass carried for six more and a first and goal at the seven. Besse sidestepped two defenders from there to score on the next play and Dustin Reiners added the point after for a 14-0 advantage at 5:50 of the quarter.
“We were hoping to come in, get ahead early and put this game to rest,” added Cook. “We aren’t in the business of trying to demoralize another team. We just wanted to get in here, get a win and get out so we can begin preparing for Erath on Rice Festival Thursday.”
The Wolf Pack was quick to oblige. Nate Link dropped WSM quarterback Ta’Mon Lockett for a loss on third down and Joe Faulk returned the ensuing punt 40 yards.
Pios’ QB Brad Stoma dumped a screen pass to Besse and he accelerated past defenders for a 16-yard gain to the 10. Stoma then fired a pass to Kevin Frank on a quick slant for a 10-yard touchdown with 1:37 left in the first quarter and a 21-0 lead.
After Dustin Reiners pinned the opponents with a 39-yard punt to the Wolf Pack five, the defense nearly scored a safety when Nate Link and Zack Henry converged on the WSM quarterback at the goal line for a sack inside the one.
The Wolf Pack would punt from the five and Notre Dame was back in business on a short field at the WSM 42. Brad Stoma, who completed six of 10 passes for 70 yards, hooked up with sophomore Boedy Borill for a 13-yard completion to the 19 yard line. Two plays later, Stoma completed a 15-yard TD pass to John Michael Besse. After a couple of penalties, Dustin Reiners booted a 40 yard extra point to put the Pios up 28-0.
“We went into the game expecting them to try and take away a few things we do by the way they play,” explained Cook. “By doing that, they also gave us some opportunities we could take advantage of that we felt they wouldn’t be able to stop.”
On the next play, Lockett botched a handoff exchange to his tailback and Pio defensive tackle Lane Latiolais recovered the fumble at the Wolf Pack 10 yard line. With seven minutes left in the first half, Cook had seen all he needed and called his starters to the sideline.
“We felt defensively they could make a few plays. They had been keeping it close in their games, but their offense turned it over twice and gave us real short drives.”
From the seven, Damon Comeaux carried twice to the one. On third and goal, Ivy Paul Robichaux took it in and Reiners added the PAT for a 35-nothing lead with 6:06 still to play.
Clean jerseys took it the rest of the way for the Pios. Joe Faulk took snaps at quarterback and later yielded duties to sophomore Adam Berken. Comeaux, Robichaux and junior Hunter Miller handled the ball carrying and the offensive line rolled through in shifts.
Notre Dame kept the ball on the ground and between the tackles. The clock kept running and the Pios coaches gathered game films on a lot of fresh jersey numbers.
“There were several plays out there with those young guys that they just didn’t block right,” added Cook. “We can go back with them on film and show them where they need to go and how to do it at that pace. Those guys were pretty quick on that D-Line for West St. Mary and a lot of our guys don’t get quality reps on the practice field. It was a lot different for them than a JV game or practice.”
West St. Mary was able to put a score on the board with just over eight minutes to play. The Pio defense stiffened the rest of the way with Matt Hanks (4), Zack Henry (3), James McCleary (2 tackles, one for loss) and Logan Lagrange sealing up the middle on defense for a 35-6 Notre Dame win.
Nate Link, Hunter Stelly and Conner Kirsch led an early defensive charge that set the tone for the game. Link recorded five tackles, three for lost yardage, and added four sacks. Stelly and Kirsch led the Pios with seven tackles each, Stelly forcing a fumble with one stop in the backfield and Kirsch recorded three sacks.