DELPHOS – Delphos St. John’s started out a little slow in Friday’s Region 26, Division VII first-round playoff football game at Stadium Park against visiting Hardin Northern.
But once the Blue Jays‘ offensive unit started to click, they never looked back, en route to 41-8 victory over Hardin Northern.
Hardin Northern (3-4) came into Friday’s contest, winning three of its last four games. St. John’s entered Friday’s matchup riding a five-game losing streak.
With the victory, St. John’s (2-5) will face No. 1 seed Lima Central Catholic next Friday in second-round playoff action.
“I think they (Hardin Northern) might have worn out a little bit,” St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte said.” We made a couple adjustments at halftime. We were just trying to get ourselves in a better position, where we had some good angles in offense, blocking-wise.”
St. John’s quarterback Brady Kerner was 6 of 9 passing for 42 yards in the first quarter. However, the Blue Jays’ offensive unit could not come away with any points, early on. For the game, Kerner was 11 of 16 passing for 130 yards and had a touchdown pass. Kerner also rushed for 54 yards and had two TDs.
For the game, St. John’s rolled up 417 yards of total offense (287 rushing, 130 passing).
However, it took a while before the Blue Jays found the end zone.
With 7:21 left to play in the first half, Kerner ran it in from five yards out to cap off a 6-play, 41-yard scoring drive. However, the extra point attempt by Braylon Metzger was blocked. The Blue Jays led 6-0.
Early on, it looked like a chess match, as both offensive units struggled.
The game was scoreless at the end of one quarter. Kerner threw an interception right before the end of the first quarter that stamped out a drive.
Braysen Schulte hauled in four passes for 17 yards in the first 12 minutes of action.
Clay Paddubny rushed for 37 yards on three carries for the Blue Jays in the first 12 minutes. He ended the first half with 64 yards on seven carries. For the game, Paddubny rushed for 137 yards on 13 carries.
After not recording a first down in the opening quarter, Hardin Northern started to move the chains in the second quarter. The Polar Bears recorded three first downs in the second quarter. However, Hardin Northern could not manage to cash in.
St. John’s took advantage of a Hardin Northern miscue, late in the first half.
Hardin Northern quarterback Nevin Robson was picked off by St. John’s defensive back Blake Ricker, which set up the Blue Jays on the Hardin Northern 29-yard line.
On the first offensive play for the Blue Jays, Kerner found Landen Elwer open for an 11-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was successful as Kerner ran it in, and the Blue Jays had the 14-point advantage at the break.
St. John’s came out in the second half, and on the first drive of the second half, traveled 82 yards on just six plays to hit pay dirt. Kerner capped off the scoring drive with a 16-yard TD run. The point after by Metzger extended the lead to 21-0, just three minutes into the third stanza.
“We had some kids make some plays,” Schulte said. “We were able to put ourselves in position to get a little bit of momentum.”
The Polar Bears finally found the end zone.
With 6:20 left to play in the third, Robson connected with Owen Wetherill, who found an opening in the secondary and scampered for a 52-yard touchdown reception. The Polar Bears’ two-point conversion was good, and the St. John’s lead was cut to 13, 21-8.
St. John’s responded.
With 1:07 left in the third quarter, Kerner ran it in from six yards out to cap off a 5-play, 82-yard scoring drive. The Blue Jays now led 27-8, which held up to the third stop.
The Blue Jays were not finished.
With 7:51 left in the game, St. John’s traveled 86 yards in eight plays to find the end zone once more.
Schulte capped off the scoring drive with a 5-yard TD run. The point after pushed the St. John’s lead to 34-8.
The Blue Jays added another score off a Hardin Northern fumble, with 3:41 left in the game.
Ricker ran it in from 15 yards out to score. The point after by Metzger rounded out the scoring.
The Blue Jays snap a five-game skid with Friday’s win over the Polar Bears. “I thought we got better each week as we went on,” Schulte said. ”We battled some injuries, and our league is not very forgiving. … But that’s football.”
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