ST. MARYS — St. Marys’ 81-year love affair with Skip Baughman Stadium came to a close Saturday night and the Riders made sure they sent their beloved historic edifice off on a winning note.
In classic Roughrider tradition, St.Marys utilized its vaunted running attack and backed that up with a stingy and opportunistic defense to dominate Pepper Pike Orange 48-13 in the opening round of the Division IV playoffs in the stadium’s final varsity football game ever.
With the win, St. Marys will face a familiar foe in Van Wert next Saturday at a site to be determined. Orange ends its season at 7-4.
“It is nice to get off to a good start like that,” St. Marys head coach Doug Frye said. “The kids played with a lot of emotion and heart today and I thought we got better in the last two weeks so I hope we continue to do that.”
The win takes a little sting off losing to Wapakoneta last week and Frye said his team’s preparation was the key to the win.
“I thought we had a real productive week of practice and I thought we improved more in this last week than we have all season,” Frye added
The Roughriders domination began on the opening kickoff when Sean Perry returned the pigskin 75 yards for a touchdown 14 seconds gone in the game and St. Marys never let its foot off the gas.
The Riders scored on six of its seven times it touched the ball to open up a 42-0 lead by halftime.
“That didn’t hurt anything that is for sure” said Frye about the Perry return. “Sean did a great job and we set a nice wall and I thought that was something we didn’t do a good job of last week and I thought we did a good job this week.”
Rider Sean Perry did the most damage offensively. In addition to his kick-off return, the senior standout finished the game with 87 yards on five carries and two touchdowns.
Not too be outdone, Perry’s backfield mates, Ty Howell and Ty Schlosser combined for 130 yards and one touchdown. Rider signal caller Braeden Dunlap also got in on the fun after rushing for 42 and one touchdown and going 3 for 5 for 60 yards and one touchdown.
The defense did its part in the first half by recording three turnovers and two sacks One of the turnovers proved to be a record breaker for Carter Ballweg. The cornerback notched his ninth interception of the year that ties a school mark. The Riders would get one more interception in the second half.
For the game, St. Marys held Orange to 107 yards on the ground.
Orange quarterback Sean Borgman was 20 for 30 for 274 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Frye said the turnovers also played a big role and he wants his defense to continue to be opportunistic throughout the postseason.
The first team defense got the shutout and Orange’s two score came in the last five minutes of the game with the Rider second team defense on the field.
Frye said playing a Skip Baughman Stadium is special and not because of its age.
“This is a great place and a great venue but like anything else in life everything has to come to an end so it is time to move on but I think the main thing is our football program, our people, our community and our coaches is the tradition. We are just moving into a new venue,” Frye said.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.