Late touchdown seals St. Al victory|PREP FOOTBALL

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

If they’re lucky, some players might get to experience the thrill of scoring a game-winning touchdown once in a lifetime.

Ryno Martin-Nez has gotten to do it twice in eight days.

Martin-Nez bulled his way into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left to give St. Aloysius its second straight win in the final minute, 16-13 over Pelahatchie on Friday night. Martin-Nez also caught the game-winning TD pass with 17 seconds left against Cathedral last week.

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“That’s just awesome,” said Martin-Nez, who finished with 67 yards and the one TD on the ground. “The linemen did an unbelievable job in the second half. That’s what won the game for us.”

St. Al quarterback Chris Lewis ran for 115 yards and a touchdown, but had a bigger impact with a game-saving play on defense early in the fourth quarter.

With just under 11 minutes to play and Pelahatchie holding a 13-10 lead, Chiefs quarterback Lance Davis took a shotgun snap at the St. Al 44 and ran off the left side. He broke into the clear and seemed headed for a touchdown that would have given Pelahatchie a two-score lead. Lewis caught him from behind inside the 5, though, and ripped the ball loose. St. Al’s Brendan Beesley fell on it at the 1-yard line.

“He made a good cut. I just chased him down and went for the ball. I knew we had to get the ball out,” Lewis said.

Martin-Nez nearly broke a 95-yard touchdown run on the ensuing series, but was tripped up by the last man to beat. The drive ended on downs when Lewis was stuffed on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-short from his own 24, but Pelahatchie was unable to move the ball. The Flashes got it back with 6 minutes to play when Justin Hosemann intercepted a fourth-down pass and embarked on the winning drive.

A 20-yard pass from Lewis to Luke Burnett and a 19-yard run by Martin-Nez moved the ball to the Pelahatchie 25. Martin-Nez converted a fourth-and-1 from the 16, then and third-and-3 inside the 10. On the next play, he took a handoff up the middle and ran over Davis to get into the end zone.

The extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 16-13, but Pelahatchie couldn’t get past its own 40-yard line in the closing seconds.

“This is fun. This is what you live for,” said St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart, whose team improved to 4-1 with third-ranked Puckett coming to town next Friday. “That puts us in a real good spot. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Every week we find a new way to win. Can’t find anything wrong with that.”

Pelahatchie, meanwhile, found a new way to lose for the third time this season. The Chiefs (2-3, 2-3 Region 3-1A) lost in overtime to Bogue Chitto, then wasted fourth-quarter leads against Cathedral and St. Al. The loss put a huge dent in their playoff hopes.

“That’s one we feel we could’ve won and should’ve won,” Pelahatchie coach Bill Ward said. “Give St. Al credit. They came up with the big plays and the turnovers when they needed them.”