Puckett’s ground game rolls over St. Al

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

St. Aloysius lined up to take its shot at No. 2 Puckett Friday night.

Things went well until Puckett hit back.

Puckett scored on all four of its first-half drives and rolled up 276 rushing yards, easily defeating St. Al 35-7. Jeremy Palmer had 144 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and Antwon Rawls ran for 74 yards and a touchdown for Puckett (5-0, 5-0 Region 3-1A). St. Al had just 113 yards of total offense, with a third of it coming on the opening drive of the game.

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“They did what Puckett does. They held the ball and just physically beat you,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said. “If there’s a better team in 1A football, I don’t know where they are. We haven’t seen them.”

St. Al (4-2, 4-2) came out firing, opening the game with an onsides kick that it recovered at the Puckett 38. On the next play, quarterback Chris Lewis hit Regan Nosser on an out pattern and Nosser turned it upfield and ran inside the 5. Ryno Martin-Nez punched in a 2-yard touchdown run two plays later to give the Flashes a quick 7-0 lead.

Then Puckett went to work, using a slow and methodical rushing attack to move down the field. With Palmer, Rawls and quarterback Quincy Champion alternating carries, the Wolves marched to the St. Al 28 and faced a fourth-and-14. Champion launched a desperation pass that was hauled in by a diving Christian Holmes at the 2, and Champion scored on a 2-yard run on the next play to tie it up.

Lewis was intercepted by Holmes on St. Al’s next possession, and Puckett drove in for another score. A 1-yard run by Rawls capped a nine-play, 37-yard drive that made it 14-7 with 32 seconds to play in the first quarter.

“They caught us off-guard on the onsides kick. They did a good job with it,” Puckett coach Jaris Patrick said. “We felt pretty confident we could move the ball on them. That proved out.”

Puckett added two more touchdowns by Palmer, on runs of 16 and 2 yards, before halftime to seize control of the game. Palmer had 93 yards in the first half alone.

“We ain’t played nobody like him. I hope we don’t play another,” Smithhart said.

The second score put the Wolves ahead 28-7 with 36 seconds to play, and the defense kept St. Al from getting anything going in the second half.

The Flashes had just two first downs — including one by a facemask penalty — and 37 yards of offense in the last two quarters.

“We’ve got a long way to go. That’s evident. But there were some positives. We had some good things, too. Our defense played hard in the second half and Brendan Beesley came in and ran the ball hard,” Smithhart said, referring to the backup tailback who had 24 yards on nine second-half carries.