LIMA — No one felt worse at halftime than Lima Central Catholic’s Ron Banks.
The running back had lost two fumbles in the first half, including one at the Delphos St. John’s 2-yard line.
“It was tough. I wanted to make up for it a lot,” Banks said. “It hurt, but I’m glad we picked up in the second half.’’
Banks bounced back in style, throwing a touchdown and running for another to help LCC to a 20-10 victory over St. John’s on Friday at Spartan Stadium.
LCC ended up churning out 298 yards on the ground. LCC is 2-0, while St. John’s is 1-1.
Leading the way for the T-Birds was Banks with 144 yards on 24 carries with a 4-yard TD. He also threw a 21-yard TD to Nathan Stolly on a halfback pass.
LCC’s Shaun Thomas ran for 77 yards on 11 carries with a 10-yard TD. LCC’s Rossi Moore had 71 yards on 11 carries. Stolly had three catches for 71 yards, with one TD.
St. John’s was missing its veteran starting quarterback Jared Wurst, who was injured last week. He was on crutches with a boot on his right ankle.
Instead, running back/wide receiver/quarterback Brady Grothaus took over at quarterback for the Blue Jays.
Grothaus played well, as he ran for 77 yards on 18 carries. He completed 9 of 11 for 85 yards and one TD. Then, Grothaus left the game with a shoulder injury with 6:58 to go, and he wasn’t able to return.
“I had no doubt in my mind that he (Grothaus) would play well,” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “We weren’t going to change our offense at all. We knew he could do it. … But then he took a shot in his shoulder.’’
St. John’s led 3-0 at the half.
It was a half LCC dominated, but two Banks fumbles were the difference. Banks lost one at the St. John’s 2 and lost the other at the LCC 23, which set up the field goal.
LCC took a 10-3 lead with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
Banks took the handoff from quarterback Nevan Stolly and fired a 21-yard TD pass to Nathan Stolly, who was wide open in the right corner of the end zone. That capped a five-play, 65-yard drive.
“I was surprised I got it out there, and I just threw it,’’ Banks said. “Mostly, it turns out well in practice.’’
LCC coach Scott Palte added, “We’ve been working on that play for a couple of weeks and didn’t use it last week. It was great execution by our kids. We really needed a spark. We kept knocking on the door and couldn’t the ball in the end zone. We kept turning it over. That was a big play for us, and Ron threw a great pass.’’
St. John’s then went on an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive to take the lead.
Grothaus threw a perfect post pass for a 34-yard TD pass to Curtis Schwinnen. That gave St. John’s a 10-7 lead with 9:10 to play.
LCC came right back with a five-play, 67-yard drive, including two key passes. Nevan Stolly hit Rossi Moore for 23 yards. He then hit Nathan Stolly for 28 to take the ball to the 4. Stolly leaped high in between two defenders at the 4 and somehow pulled down the ball.
Nathan Stolly said, “Nevan (Stolly) put the ball in the air, it was a little right, and I went up in double coverage and I went up and made a play and came down with it. I did whatever I could to get that ball. Then I came down and turned my ankle on his foot. I’ll be healthy in a week.’’
Palte said, “We thought they were really coming after us on the run. We thought if we were going to move the ball, we had to back them off a little bit and throw the ball. They had Nate double-covered, and that’s an athlete making a heck of a football play. That’s a game-changer.’’
Banks swept the right side for a 4-yard TD to give the T-Birds a 13-10 lead with 7:10 to play.
Thomas capped the LCC scoring with a 10-yard run around the left side to give LCC a 20-10 lead with 1:15 to play.
LCC dominated the time of possession in the first half yet trailed 3-0 at the half.
St. John’s scored on the final play of the first half when Mark Wrasman connected on a 32-yard field goal.
The field goal capped a four-play drive when the Blue Jays took over at the LCC 23 when the T-Birds lost their second fumble of the first half.
“We gave them the three points, but we told them (at halftime) to keep playing,” Palte said. “They didn’t put their head down and didn’t pout.’’
Midway in the first quarter, LCC pounded out a 16-play drive from its own 25 to the St. John’s 1.
From the St. John’s 1, Banks lost a yard and the ball, when it popped out at St. John’s 2.
The Blue Jays’ Wrasman recovered the fumble at the 2 with 8:59 left in the second quarter.
But Banks and company were able to bounce back in the second half.
“At halftime, we talked about holding onto the ball, and coach told me to pick out a certain ball for the second half. I did and it worked out after that,’’ Banks said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.