Defense carries Flashes to victory

Published 1:05 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

On a night when its offense seemed to go as far backward as forward, St. Aloysius turned to the defense to scratch out a win.

Mac Jones returned one of his two interceptions for a go-ahead touchdown, then capped the Flashes’ third goal line stand of the game with a devastating sack late in the fourth quarter as St. Al eked out a 12-7 win over Catholic school rival Greenville-St. Joe on Friday night.

Jones also ran for a 4-yard touchdown in the first half, one of the few offensive highlights for the Flashes (2-1). Thanks largely to a pair of fumbles that lost a total of 42 yards, they managed only 92 yards of total offense in the game.

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“Defense is going to be our key,” Jones said. “When we play good defense, there’s not too many teams that can beat us.”

St. Joe (0-3), for the most part, beat itself.

The Irish turned the ball over three times and only scored once on four trips inside the red zone. A sure touchdown pass was dropped on fourth-and-goal on the game’s opening drive and St. Al stonewalled the Irish twice inside the 10-yard line in the fourth quarter.

The only successful drive came just before halftime, when quarterback Jacob Reifers scrambled 11 yards for a touchdown to put the Irish ahead 7-6.

“We’re leaving too many points on the field,” St. Joe coach John Baker, a Redwood resident, said after his team produced only one touchdown for the third consecutive week. “We’re starting nine sophomores and two freshmen on offense. There’s a lot of youth.”

The last time St. Joe ventured near the goal line, Jones made his third huge play of the night. With 2 1/2 minutes left, St. Joe faced fourth-and-goal from the St. Al 3. Reifers dropped back to pass and was walloped by a blindside hit from Jones at the 7.

St. Al took over on downs and was able to run out the clock.

“Guts. The defense had guts,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said. “(Jones) made the two biggest plays of the game. He’s our leader and that’s what we expect.”

When he wasn’t crushing Reifers with a hit, Jones was making his life miserable in pass coverage.

Early in the second quarter, Jones snatched a deflected pass out of the air and returned it 25 yards to the St. Joe 20-yard line. Two short runs and three consecutive offsides penalties later, Jones punched it into the end zone on a 4-yard run to give St. Al a 6-0 lead with 6:54 left.

Jones’ biggest play, however, came on St. Joe’s first snap of the second half.

Riding the momentum of Reifers’ touchdown run, the Irish successfully executed an onsides kick to start the third quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, Reifers took a one-step drop and tossed a pass toward his slot receiver.

Jones read it perfectly. He broke on the ball and caught it on a dead run, taking it back 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

“They were doing real good on their trips-right play before halftime. I just read it and took it to the house,” Jones said. “I saw the field. Best feeling in the world.”