KENTON, OHIO – It didn’t start off as a banner night for the St. Marys Roughriders as they found themselves down 17-0 in the opening half, but it sure ended as one as they outscored Kenton 35-6 in the second half to end a losing streak dating back to 2007 against the Wildcats.
Junior signalcaller Dustin Howell tied a school record held by 5 other QB’s in Roughrider history that first dates back to a 1959 contest against Kenton as he tossed a trio of touchdowns on the night. Bob Brown (vs Kenton 1959), Greg Ulrich (vs Celina 1971), Derek Turner (vs Bath 1987), Derek Dunlap (vs Elida 2007), and Jake Taylor (vs Defiance 2008) are the only other passers to have accomplished the feat before Howell on this night.
Kenton’s offense jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their opening drive as Chris Deardorff’s 25 yard field goal and pushed their advantage to 10-0 on their second drive on a 3 yard touchdown run from QB Trent Hites with 6:52 remaining in the opening stanza. After St. Marys Logan Maze was stripped of the football at midfield, Kenton pushed the score to 17-0 as under immense pressure, Hites fired a strike from 34 yards out to Deardorff for a score just in front of the outstretched hands of the defense.
On the games ensuing kickoff the Riders got a 68 yard return from Seth Vorhees that gave them their best field position to begin a drive at the Kenton 21. Using just a trio of plays the offense got on the scoreboard for the first time as Howell tossed his first of three scores on the evening, in the back of the endzone to Randy Slife to cut the Kenton lead to 17-7 with 6:45 to go in the second quarter.
Trailing by the same margin to begin the games penultimate quarter, the Riders offense again turned the ball over as a bad exchange to Howell was recovered by the home squad near the 50 yard line.
A pair of drives later and on the heels of the sixth Kenton punt of the game the Roughriders began their run of points in the second half with Howell’s second touchdown pass, a 66 yard effort caught by Eric Spicer.
With Kenton failing on their next drive to convert on a short fourth down play, St. Marys again took over as they looked to go ahead for the first time in the game and starting from the Kenton 38. On the drives 9th play Howell tied the aforementioned touchdown passes in a game record as he hooked up with Jase Green to go ahead 21-17.
In front of a suddenly nervous home crowd, the Wildcats next drive would end in a quick 3 and out. Despite failing to pick up a first down on their own next drive, St. Marys caught a break when a Jacob James punt was muffed by the Wildcats and gave the visitors new life at their opponents 35 with 9:06 left in the contest.
Even though he had to check out of the game earlier on after taking a big hit from the defense, Rider halfback Eric Spicer scored the first of his two remaining touchdowns on the ground from 35 yards out to run his teams lead to 28-17.
Kenton quickly responded to cut the lead to 28-23 in the game when less than a minute later Hites pass was hauled in by Deardorff for the second time in the game, this time from 4 yards out for a score. Down 5 and with time running out, the Wildcats went for two but an incomplete pass fell short of its intended target to keep the contest 28-23 with 8:19 left.
An unsuccessful onside kick from the Wildcats gave the Roughriders the football at their own 39 after being picked up by Julius Fisher, a Junior who played brilliantly on both sides of the ball in the contest.
Touchdown runs of 25 yards from Spicer and 16 yards by Fisher (following an interception of Hites by Austin Tester) were the final two scoring plays of the game as they resulted in a 42-23 win for St. Marys, their first in the series since beating the Wildcats 28-14 at Robinson Field in 2007.
For his part in the win, Eric Spicer finished with 24 carries for 160 yards and a pair of touchdown runs. Fisher finished the night with 33 yards on the ground and a touchdown, his second of the season and in as many weeks. Freshman Kicker Gabe Vandever continued to stay perfect in the extra point department as he successfully converted on 6/6 post touchdown chances.
St. Marys (4-0, 3-0 WBL) stays undefeated on the season and sees their first 4-0 start since 2008 when they finished at 9-3, as WBL Champions and as a Regional Semifinalist. The Roughriders will next be in action on Friday, September 25th at 7:00pm for their Homecoming game against the Elida Bulldogs (2-2, 1-2) that can be heard live on K94.3 FM or online at www.k943.com
with myself and Dennis Cisco on the call beginning with the pregame show at 6:30pm.
Kenton sees their record fall to 1-3 on the season, and 1-2 in the Western Buckeye League. The Wildcats will return to action next week as they travel to Van Wert to take on the 2-2 (1-2) Cougars.