HARROD — It’s no secret that Lehman Catholic can move the football down the field.
Delphos St. John’s knew it had to find a way to slow down the Lehman Catholic high-powered offense in Friday’s Division VII regional semifinal football playoff game at Allen East’s Goodwin Field.
Coming into Friday’s contest, Lehman averaged 55 points per game, led by running back Owen Smith (1,727 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) and quarterback Elliot Gilardi (1,440 passing yards, 950 rushing yards).
The St. John’s defense stepped up big Friday night, holding the Cavaliers to just 118 yards on the ground and 123 yards in the air en route to a hard-fought 14-7 win over Lehman Catholic.
With the victory, St. John’s (8-4) will take on Minster (8-4) in the Division VII, Region 28 final next Friday at a site to be determined. Minster beat Crestview, 35-32, in its playoff matchup.
Smith was held to just 70 yards rushing (11 yards in the first half), and Gilardi was 8 of 20 passing with two interceptions. Defensive back Collin Will had both picks for the Blue Jays.
“Our defense was tremendous all night long, from the get-go,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “In the second half, our offense didn’t do anything to help them out.”
The Blue Jays scored all of their points in the second quarter.
Two minutes into the second stanza, St. John’s capped off an impressive 14-play, 69-yard scoring drive with 9-yard TD pass from quarterback Jared Wurst to Connor Hulihan. With the extra point by Mark Wrasman, the Blue Jays led 7-0.
St. John’s recorded its second TD thanks to special teams.
With less than a minute to play in the half, St. John’s Devin Lindeman got a piece of the football on a Lehman punt attempt inside its own 25-yard line. Hunter Bonifas, a defensive tackle, scooped up the loose pigskin in the end zone for the TD. With the extra point by Wrasman, the Blue Jays led 14-0.
In the first half, the Blue Jays’ offense consisted mainly of runs by Wurst. The junior signal-caller rushed for 52 yards in the first half. He ended the game with 70 yards to lead St. John’s. Wurst was 10 of 20 passing for 107 yards, with an interception. His favorite receiver was Hulihan, who hauled in three passes for 48 yards.
In the second half, Lehman (10-2) moved the football but missed a couple opportunities as the Blue Jays’ defense came up big several times. In the second half, Lehman recorded 12 of its 14 total first downs.
However, the Cavaliers did get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter, on a 1-yard run into the end zone by Gilardi, capping off a 10-play, 59-yard scoring drive.
The Cavaliers had the football deep in St. John’s territory three times in the second half and came up empty-handed each time.
“That’s a good defensive effort,” Schulte said. “They (St. John’s defensive unit) were backed up three times in the second half, but they kept coming and making plays. I told the kids that this time of the year, a win is a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we get to go back to work Monday, and that’s the best thing.”
For the game, St. John’s recorded 12 first downs.
“It wasn’t a great game, offensively, but we did enough things to keep ourselves in the game,” Schulte said. “The idea is to get yourself from one week to the next. That’s what we talked about all week. We talked about coming out and playing 48 minutes of football and getting ourselves to another Monday, so we can start prepping again.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.