St. James Scores Late To Sneak Past Sullivan

Zack Achterberg scored on a 6-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter on Friday to help the St. James Tigers sneak past Sullivan 12-6.

Winless in their last 15 games, the Tigers defense threw up a roadblock in slowing down a Sullivan team that hung 41 points on Hermann a week earlier.

The Eagles scored with 5:25 left in the first half, but wouldn’t find the end zone again.

Sullivan had two drives halted inside the St. James 10. Their first two drives of the game ended in turnovers.

St. James allowed Sullivan to pick up four first downs on the opening series of the second half, but forced them off the field with two punts and a turnover on downs on the next three.

Quarterback Gabe Dace completed seven of 15 passes for 53 yards.

Trey Blankenship led Sullivan’s rushing attack with 70 yards on 12 carries. Alex Goly had 43 yards on 12 carries.

Ian King rushed eight times for 22 yards.

The Eagles were outgained in yardage 253-220 and were unable to force any St. James turnovers.

Sullivan picked up 26 yards on their first two offensive plays, but a low snap was recovered by James Altis.

On the next drive, Sullivan easily moved into St. James territory. On a third-and-6, Dace rolled out and tried to squeeze a pass to Xavier Goly. Payton Maylee stepped in front and picked it off. He was tackled in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

The Tigers scored on the next series. Facing a first-and-20, Derek Skaggs dove forward to haul in a catch. Sullivan was subsequently whistled for a roughing the passer on quarterback Preston Schmidt. That advanced the ball all the way to the Eagles 9.

Three plays later, Schmidt zipped a pass over the middle to Maylee for a 3-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the period. The kick was no good and St. James took a 6-0 lead.

Sullivan answered back on the strength of two third and fourth down conversions. 

St. James sacked Dace for a five-yard loss on third-and-11, but the Tigers were called for a personal foul. The infraction offset the loss and then some, bringing up a fourth-and-2. Alex Goly converted the first fourth down conversion with a seven-yard run. 

Later, the Eagles stared at a fourth-and-15. Dace threw up a jump ball that Farrell was able to secure for a 38-yard gain. With the ball at the St. James 6, Sullivan pounded it ahead on three plays, reaching the end zone on Dace’s 3-yard score. 

His two-point conversion pass was no good, leaving the game tied at 6-6.

Momentum seemed to be on Sullivan’s side as they recovered a squib kick at the St. James 48. After a series of running plays spotted the ball at the Tigers 11, King was thrown for a seven-yard loss. On fourth-and-12, Sullivan was able to extend the drive on a defensive pass interference call. It made for a more manageable fourth-and-3. Dace took off running and tried to juke his defender, but he was dragged down short of the marker. St. James took over at their own 7, thwarting the go-ahead score.

The offense continued its march as the second half began. Xavier Goly converted a third-and-6 and Trey Blankenship broke several tackles on his way to 19-yard run on second-and-12. 

Sullivan kept feeding Trey Blankenship, but St. James stopped him on third-and-1 at their own 4. Dace tried to sneak past the marker, only to have the Tigers turn him away. 

St. James used a trick play to sustain the ensuing drive. Schmidt faked a punt and tossed up a fluttering spiral that Trent Satterfield hauled in. 

While the Tigers didn’t score, Schmidt’s next punt sent the Eagles all the way back to their own 14. 

The two teams continued trading punts until St. James finally regained the lead thanks to Schmidt, who converted two fourth downs. On a fourth-and-11, Schmidt was flushed out of the pocket, but he scrambled for 17 yards to extend the drive. 

He used his arm on a fourth-and-7. Hanging in against some heavy Sullivan pressure, Schmidt made an off-balance completion to Maylee for a 14-yard gain.

St. James set up at the Sullivan 7 and two plays later, Achterberg swept left for a 6-yard score with 4:18 remaining. Sullivan felled a two-point run.

The Eagles’ last chance to at least tie ended with the Tigers sending a heavy blitz and sacking Dace on fourth-and-8. Sullivan never received the ball again as Schmidt completed a 22-yard pass to Logan Sparks on fourth-and-7.

Sullivan Independent News

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