There was no way around the storms Friday and for Pacific football, there was no way around the Bulldogs at St. Clair.
Playing 90 minutes early in an effort to get as much of the game in as possible, the teams almost succeeded as St. Clair (3-0, 1-0) opened Four Rivers Conference play at home with a 41-6 victory against the Indians (0-3, 0-1). The game was delayed due to lightning with a little less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter and did not resume after the storms refused to clear out.
“I thought we played better than we did last week and I thought Pacific played better too,” St. Clair Head Coach Brian Robbins said. “They didn’t turn the ball over like we saw the first couple of weeks. I knew they would improve, so hats off to their kids and Coach (Clint Anderson). ... I didn’t want to have to reschedule it for Saturday or Monday and Coach Anderson felt the same way. It was a mutual agreement that we could be here all night, so got together with the officials and the admin team and decided to just call it.”
The storms came just as Pacific felt it was starting to build momentum offensively. The Indians didn’t score until the final play of the night in Week 1 against St. Francis Borgia Regional and were shut out in Week 2 at Washington.
Friday, the Bulldogs led 26-0 at halftime, but Pacific came out aggressively and recovered an onside kick to start the second half. The ensuing drive saw Pacific score its only points of the night on 19-yard touchdown throw from Colton Thompson to Grant Hall.
“With kids like this, most of the time we’re playing with just two or three seniors on the field, they were playing really hard and I liked a lot better what we saw tonight than what we did against Borgia or Washington,” Anderson said. “... We started moving the ball a little better in the second half and I made the call with Coach Robbins (to stop the game). It was going to be a running clock anyway, but I liked what I was seeing in the second half. I hate taking us off the field when we’ve got that momentum, but the kids’ safety comes first.”
The Bulldogs rushed for 322 yards on the ground in the abbreviated contest. However, St. Clair came out and put up the first points of the night through the air on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Timmy Hoffman to tight end Jacob Hawkins.
“I keep saying we can throw the ball and we’re working on getting that more into our offense and opening things up a bit because we have multiple quarterbacks that can throw the ball well and we have multiple kids that can catch the ball well,” Robbins said. “As good as our running game has been, that’s just going to make it that much better if people have to defend the passing game as well.”
Kamalei Bursey, Harry Ramos and Caleb Smith added rushing touchdowns for St. Clair in the first half. Bursey scored from 80 yards out while Ramos and Smith scored from distances of 25 yards and three yards, respectively.
With the Bulldogs putting up 300 yards on the ground each of the previous two weeks as well, Anderson knew his team faced a physical test up front.
“We played a lot more physically tonight,” Anderson said. “St. Clair’s a tough team and they get downhill. I knew it was going to be a tough test, but I saw what I wanted to see.”
Bursey carried the ball eight times for 115 yards and a touchdown and also added one catch for 48 yards and a score through the air.
Hoffman completed 3-4 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 128 yards and a score on the ground.
Ramos carried three times for 36 yards and a score and added one catch for 17 yards.
Smith and Hawkins’ touchdowns were on their only offensive touches in the contest.
Brendyn Stricker added 22 yards on four carries and also ran in a two-point conversion.
Anthoni White, Lance McCoy and Dalton Thompson each made two carries. White picked up 13 yards, Thompson three and McCoy two.
Defensively, Mardariries Miles led St. Clair with seven tackles and two assists.
Dalton Thompson made five stops. Ramos picked up four tackles and two assists.
Others with tackles included Ryan Barrett with three (one assist, one tackle for loss), Aaron Herman with three (one assist), White with two (two assists), Hawkins with two (one tackle for loss and a sack), Bursey with two, Tanner Durham with two (one assist), and one each from Blaine Dace, Stricker and McCoy.
Dace recovered a fumble.
Landen Roberts made one assist.
Colton Thompson completed 4-17 passing for the Indians in Week 3, racking up 65 yards and one touchdown. He carried 12 times for 39 yards.
Hall caught the 19-yard touchdown for his only reception of the game and added three carries for 11 yards.
Robert Schmidt made two catches for 26 yards and carried twice for seven yards.
Jackson Roloff made one catch for 20 yards.
Nathan Midkiff carried the ball three times, picking up six yards.
Roloff led the Indians in tackles with six and made one assist.
Max Meadows and Schmidt made four tackles each and both added two assists.
Others making stops for Pacific included Sam Williams (three tackles, two assists), Andrew Weston (two tackles, one assist), Seth Denbow (one tackle, one assist), Andrew Erselius (one tackle, one assist), Parker Kuelker (one tackle, one assist), Midkiff (one tackle, one assist), Ian Scott (one tackle), Camron Steffey (one tackle, one assist), Mason Davis (one tackle) and Hall (one assist).
Denbow and Midkiff each recovered a fumble.
The Bulldogs play on the road atSullivan (0-3, 0-1) in another conference matchup this coming Friday.
St. Clair won last year’s meeting, 49-14, and have beaten the Eagles each of the past three seasons. The Eagles are coming off a disappointing FRC loss at Union in Week 3 that was stopped toward the end of the first quarter Friday and concluded on Saturday.
“I know it’s cliche, but we really are week to week,” Robbins said Friday. “We don’t pay attention to what’s next. I’m already starting to think about them, but we don’t know anything other than the coaching staff is the same and we’ll get going on those guys when we’re able to swap film.”
Pacific returns home for the first time since Week 1 and is set to host Union (1-2, 1-0) in Week 4.
The Indians are in search of their first win against a team that just got its first win of the season, 12-0, last week against Sullivan. In that game, the Wildcats dedicated their home field at Stierberger Stadium to former Head Coach Del Rinne.
Pacific got the better of Union last season, 49-32, but the Wildcats have won each of the previous seven meetings before that.