Spires Block Warriors from Late Season Push, defeating SC in OT 47-48
"These games are the reason we coach," remarked Head Coach Andy Lambert in a post game interview. "This was just great back and forth battle and the kind of excitement you hope to have in college football."
Excitement it was. Knowing going in that St. Mary would air it out and the Warriors would grind on the ground made the match-up all the more appealing. There was no argument that both Quarterbacks on the field Saturday were the keys to the game; Sterling's Tyler Degenhardt with his feet, and St.Mary's Daniel Robles with his arm. Both would have big days.
The Spires would draw first blood as a crucial 4th down mishap at the end of the 4th quarter would give the Spires great field position. A bad snap in the punt formation forcing a kneel down woud give the Spires the ball 22 yards away from paydirt in which they would capitilize 3 plays later on Robles to Derick Shulte 15 yard completion.
The Warriors would quickly answer with a 50 yard drive early in the 2nd quarter capped off by a Degenhardt to Rashard Colquitt TD reception. The two prize fighter like teams would them trade some blows as the Spires with a big 53 yard pass completion from Robles to his favorite target on the day, Glen Wallin, would set up another Robles passing TD, again finding Wallin in the end zone.
The Warriors would answer right back with two big runs from Degenhart and Colquitt, Colquitt's 29 yarder finding the goal line. After the failed two-point conversion, the score would be 13-12. Robles of St. Mary would quickly find Tai Murray two consecutive times in the air to give St. Mary an 18-13 lead at halftime.
The Warriors would strike on their first possession of the 2nd half with a Carlos De Los Reyes TD reception from Degenhardt. The Robles show took no break as he would guide St. Mary on a 71 yard drive the subsequent possession and cap it off with an 8 yard scramble for a touchdown. After a quick Warrior series and punt, it seemed as though Robles and the Spires could bury an early dagger in the Warriors as they drove to the Sterling 15 yard line. With going up 2 scores seemingly assured, the reliable Robles overthrew a TD intended pass finding Warrior corner Brent Schnieder who would return it 88 yards the other direction, setting up another De Los Reyes TD reception with Degenhardt; possibly one of the biggest momentum swings of the game at that point.
Robles would then throw two consecutive interceptions, one to Brock Frank, and a second to Austin Kingsbury; both resulting in Warrior touchdowns by Tyler Degenhardt. Depending on which Daniel Robles would come back out to the field after the set back would foretell how the remainder of the game would go. The first half Robles would be back as he would master two impressive drives, the first 58 and the second, and an incredible 83 yard drive; which would require a 2 point conversion attempt to tie the game at 41. With yet another pass to Willie Harris, the comeback was solidified with the score tied 41-41 with just under two minutes to go.
The two minute offense would prove effective for the Warriors, however, as Degenhardt would lead the Warrior down to the 10 yard line with under a minute to go and a great opportunity to win the game. On a 2nd down, defensivemen John Annino for the Spires would make the biggest sack of the day, snagging Degenhardt for a 10 yard loss. After a 5 yard penalty on the next play, the Warriors were forced to go for a much longer field goal try then they had planned, 41 yards against a stiff wind. With the kick short, overtime was underway.
The Spires would have first posession, resulting in a quick TD strike from Robles to Tai Murray with the extra point threw the score would be 48-41.
On the first play for the Warriors, Degenhardt would find Clay McEachern in the end zone for a 25 yard score. Just as quick as the emotions skyrocketed, they fell to the ground as the extra point would find the hands Defensive lineman Chris Joly of the Spires blocking the tying attempt, ending the game, the final 47-48.
As billed, the quarterbacks would lead the way with Tyler Degenhardt for the Warriors responsible for 6 touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing); and Daniel Robles for St. Mary putting up a stunning 450 yards passing with 7 touchdowns (5 passing, 2 rushing), easily the MVP of the game for St. Mary.
The Warriors with the loss would fall out of a second place tie with Ottawa, their opponent for next week's season finale. National tournament implications will still be on the line next week as the 7-1 Ottawa has an outside chance of getting an at large as the 2nd place finisher, with Friends likely to run the table. Sterling will have the opportunity to play the spoiler, as Ottawa is no doubt wishing they could play any other team in the league than a Warrior team with as much desire and courage and welcome of what could be a thriller season finisher.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 at Smisor Stadium.