Three touchdown runs for St. Croix Lutheran's running back Mike Stern, two touchdown grabs by wide receiver Garett Maag, and a dominant offensive line was too much for St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake Friday night.
Throw in a defense that held the powerful SMB offense to two scores and it all adds up to a Crusaders 50-14 victory.
Two early turnovers by the Wolfpack led to 15 quick Crusaders' points. SCL would score a third first quarter touchdown to storm out to a 22-0 lead. Quarterback Jonathan Liesener threw two deep balls to Maag – both resulting in touchdowns. With two grabs, Maag had two touchdowns and 78 yards.
The offensive line was the story offensively for SCL. SMB had no answer for the between the tackles attack of the 2016 Class AAA state runner up. Running behind center Sam Fischer and Jack Kapanke Stern wore out the inside of the Wolfpack's defense.
“In the second half it felt like our offensive line was getting a better push,” offensive lineman Sam Wondrasch said.
Wondrasch, Kapanke, Fischer, Erik Snook and Matt Nelson kept Liesener clean and paved the way to nearly 400 yards rushing.
The defense allowed only 14 points primarily because they were able to contain athletic SMB quarterback Jalen Suggs.
“We worked hard on that – containing (Suggs) from the outside.” St. Croix Lutheran coach Carl Lemke said. “I think we were surprised how successful we were.”
In tandem with the pass rush, the secondary didn't allow the receivers any space to operate.
“The key to the game was our pass coverage,” cornerback Maag said. “They like to go deep. The receivers like to sit and then go deep allowing Jalen to roll out.”
After the Crusaders sprinted out to a 29-0 lead, SMB got on the board and scored right before the half. They had a long way to go, but they were going into the locker room with momentum. The momentum lasted one drive. James Chernohorsky would score the first of his two rushing touchdowns from one yard out to cap off a grinding drive that was almost exclusively the running game.
St. Croix Lutheran answered SMB's second score even more dramatically with a one play 85-yard run – right up the middle by Stern. The senior running back would end the game with over 200 yards rushing.
The game was running time by the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and both teams had emptied their benches at the same point in the game.
The victory moves St. Croix Lutheran to 2-0 on the season. They will travel to St. Paul Central next Friday afternoon while SMB falls to 1-1 and will travel to Fridley to face the Tigers.