Silliman finishes Flashes

Published 12:43 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

St. Aloysius brought its season out of a death spiral, but on Friday night it finally flat-lined.

The Silliman Institute used a combination of big plays, good defense and St. Al mistakes to put down the Flashes 28-7 in the second round of the MAIS Class AAA playoffs in Clinton, La.

The Flashes (5-7) had won four consecutive games following a 1-6 start and won the District 3-AAA championship. Although the end was tough to swallow, coach BJ Smithhart said the overall arc of the season and their final game made it an enjoyable ride.

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“I’m just proud of the kids. They could have easily hung their heads down 14-0, and they scratched back,” Smithhart said. I thought we outplayed them in the third quarter, and we just couldn’t punch it in. They’re a good football team, and we are too.”

St. Al’s senior class capped a remarkable three-year run. The program had won only five playoff games in 30 years before making it to the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals in 2013 and the championship game in 2014.

St. Al moved to the MAIS this season and routed Bayou Academy in the first round before running into Silliman.

St. Al has gone 27-14 over the last three years and won six playoff games.

“Not many people won playoff games here, and those dudes won six,” Smithhart said. “That’s a program thing, but they meant a lot to me. They’ve done such good things.”

One of the outgoing seniors, DeMichael Harris, developed into one of the best running backs in St. Al history. He entered Friday with four straight 200-yard games and set a Warren County record with 395 yards and six touchdowns in last week’s win against Bayou.

Harris, though, never got going against Silliman (10-1). The Wildcats kept Harris bottled up all night, and outside of an 11-yard touchdown run just before halftime turned him into a non-factor.

Silliman held its sixth consecutive opponent to seven points or less. It advanced to play Leake Academy, which upset Adams Christian 27-19, in the Class AAA semifinals next week.

“That’s the strength of their team,” Smithhart said. “DeMichael ran as hard as he could tonight. We just played a good team.”

While Harris was unable to generate the big plays that had been powering St. Al’s offense, Silliman did.

Quarterback Zach Kelly threw a pass into the flat that resulted in a long gain in the first quarter, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run on the next play. The scoring drive started after St. Al fumbled on the game’s opening possession.

Early in the second quarter, Kelly threw a screen pass that wound up as a 42-yard touchdown, and Silliman added another score with 3:45 left in the half to go up 21-0.

Harris put St. Al on the board with less than 30 seconds left in the half, but that was its lone offensive highlight. Silliman’s defense kept the Flashes — who had averaged 47 points per game during their winning streak — off the board the rest of the way and iced the victory on a 6-yard run with 8:19 remaining in the game.