TOLEDO — It was a crazy, record-setting night for offense.
But, in the end, Lima Senior made a defensive stand when it needed one the most.
Lima Senior’s Marquis Graham picked off a pass in the left flat and returned it 95 yards for a score to help power the Spartans to a 72-50 victory over Toledo St. John’s Friday at St. John’s.
The 72 points set a Lima Senior record for points, breaking the old mark of 65 set twice before.
Graham’s interception came when Lima Senior was leading 44-36. The interception pushed the Spartans’ lead to 51-36 with 3:06 left in the third quarter.
“I saw the quarterback’s eyes that he was going to throw it and I stepped up, jumped and caught the ball,” Graham said. “I just came out here and tried to get us to go 7-0.”
Lima Senior coach Mike Fell added, “I think that (the interception) was the key play to our season in seven games because I didn’t know if we were ever going to stop them. Marquis made a great play.”
Lima Senior is 7-0, 4-0 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Toledo St. John’s is 2-5, 2-2 in the TRAC.
It’s the first time Lima Senior has had a 7-0 record. The Spartans are closing in on their first playoff appearance since 1999.
Lima Senior’s offense went up and down the field in the first half, thanks to wide receiver Ruben Flowers. Flowers finished the night with seven catches for 265 yards and three TDs.
Spartans quarterback Darius Gordon completed 19 of 37 for 442 yards and four TDs.
In the second half, Spartans tailback Juniel Liles took over and ran for 163 yards on 21 carries and three TDs.
But, overall, Fell wasn’t happy with his defensive effort, giving up 669 total yards. Lima Senior racked up 650 total yards.
“I think it was a good wake-up call for us and hopefully we’ll learn from this,” Fell said.
Lima Senior took the lead to stay on Liles’ 15-yard TD run to give the Spartans a 37-36 lead with 10:05 left in the third quarter.
St. John’s quarterback Matt Winzeler set a school record for passing yards with 561. He completed 38 of 66 with five TDs. He continually threw lasers and picked apart the Spartans’ zone defense.
“Last year at Whitmer, he (Winzeler) ran the ball more and I didn’t expect him to throw the ball like he did,” Graham said. “I knew he threw for 388 yards last week, but I didn’t expect him to throw like this. He lit the scoreboard up on us.”
The first half was filled with offensive fireworks on both sides.
St. John’s led 20-14 after the first quarter and pulled out to a 28-14 lead with 7:34 left in the first half.
But the Spartans battled back.
Two plays after dropping behind by 14, Flowers caught his second TD of the night. This one was a 65-yard TD off a slant pass and run to get within 28-21. On the TD, Flowers broke away from three defenders and rolled over one.
Flowers’ third TD, off a 67-yard slant and run, tied the game at 28 with 3:28 before the half.
Lima Senior took a 31-28 halftime lead on Alex Ehora’s 24-yard field goal as time ran out at the half.
At the half, Flowers had six catches for 226 yards and three TDs. His TDs were 59, 65 and 67 yards.