ST. MARYS – From shootout to blowout.
St. Marys held a 29-22 advantage at halftime over Kenton, and it appeared more offensive fireworks were in order for the second half. Instead, it was the Roughriders’ offense that exploded and outscored the Wildcats 41-7 in the final two quarters to notch the 70-29 win Friday at Skip Baughman Stadium.
The Roughriders remain unbeaten on the season at 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the Western Buckeye League. Kenton falls to 3-2 for the season and 3-1 in league action.
“I liked the second half better than the first half,” St. Marys coach Doug Frye said. “I thought our kids came out and decided they were going to take it up a couple of notches in the second half, and it would be easier on my heart if they would have done that in the first half.”
Throughout the night, Kenton’s defense could not corral St. Marys’ vaunted running attack, as the Riders recorded 457 yards on the ground. The Wildcats could not keep up offensively. One of the reasons was the injury to Kenton’s sensational senior signal-caller Jaron Sharp, who was injured midway through the third quarter when he went out with what appeared to be a concussion.
Kenton coach Brent Fackler said the injury to his star quarterback hurt Kenton and added that his absence might have hurt them more defensively.
“Jaron got hurt there and couldn’t go back in the game. We were using him on defense, and when he came out of there we went sophomores,” Fackler said. “They are trying and working, but they just manhandled us.”
Fackler added that it was the Roughriders’ ability to get out on the perimeter on the sweep that caused the Kenton defense a lot of problems.
“They did a great job with their guards blocking and their running backs blocking out on the perimeter,” Fackler said. “They did a really good job in the second half. That happens in high school football. They are the No. 1 team in the state, and they are pretty doggone good.”
Before exiting the game with the injury, Sharp was 19 of 33 for 264 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Sharp’s replacement, Jacob Eversole, was 15 of 23 for 119 yards and one interception.
Kenton receiver Jayden Cornell finished the night with 14 catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Rider Sean Perry, who did most of his damage in the first half by scoring early touchdowns, finished with 179 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown.
But it was Rider running back Ty Howell who had a career night for St. Marys. The junior running back had runs of 6, 53 and 46 yards for touchdowns and finished with 112 yards on five carries and three scores.
Howell’s main contribution came when he raced for a 82-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff to start the second half. That provided a big spark for St. Marys and put the team up by two touchdowns.
Even though they put up big numbers, Frye said the offense is still not quite where he would like it to be.
“We really haven’t been the Wing-T team that I want this season,” Frye said. “We’ve been running some gun and some spread and different things, but I thought we were a lot better Wing-T tonight.”
Not to be overlooked by the big offensive outing was the Riders’ defensive effort in the second half. Frye said they made some adjustments right before half and then continued their physical play in the final two stanzas.
“I thought we played with a little more aggressive approach and a little smarter approach,” Frye said. “It was a great game in the first half and great for our kids to be tested tonight. The way our kids handled adversity tonight was tremendous. We just kept fighting back.”