Senior QB Austin Malone continued to rattle the scoreboard like sevens on a slot machine and Class D2 top-ranked and defending state champion FC Sacred Heart overcame itself to capture blowout victory No. 2 on the 2014 season Friday at Pawnee City, beating the Indians 54-6.
FCSH compiled 368 yards of offense and topped 50 points for the 14th time in its last 16 games (the exceptions were 49 at Meridian last October and 48 in the season-opener). But play was maybe not as crisp as the Irish coach would like it to be — FCSH had eight penalties in the game, one of which aided a Pawnee scoring drive in the second quarter and another negated a 50-yard pass completion and led to a first quarter Irish punt, and fumbled away another scoring opportunity in the second half — which may make for some long afternoons the next several days on the practice field. The 2-1 Irish are on a bye week and don’t play until Sept. 26, so who needs fresh legs?
“We’ve improved from Game 1, but we still have a lot of work to do,” seven-time state champion coach Doug Goltz said. “Our blocking and getting off blocks needs to improve a great deal before we’ll be able to beat a Top 5 caliber team. We commit too many penalties too.”
The bye week is common for the fellas on Saturday and Sunday, much less frequent for creatures of the Friday nights.
“I’d rather be playing a game, but this will be a good week to work on fundamentals, as that’s what we need the most,” Goltz said.
Sacred Heart opened the season with a loss to a fellow defending state champ — North Andrew, MO — in a high-scoring 56-48 thriller at Jug Brown, where the two teams combined for 42 points in the first quarter alone.
The Irish kept the fastbreak on, too, rolling up 491 yards and 58 points in a laugher over Meridian, and then put up another 54 Friday, though it needed the first stringers and its first fourth-quarter points of 2014 to get there.
Pawnee City, 1-7 a year ago, was a 30-22 week one winner over Sterling and is an improved team, but one with seemingly much ground to cover before it nears Sacred Heart’s level. Yet midway through the second period, the Indians trailed just 14-6 after marching 50 yards in eight plays (capped by a five-yard TD pass from Voy Pearson to Cory Kettelhake). The Indians then forced an Irish punt, taking possession with an inexplicable chance to tie late in the half.
Fat chance, actually. A Logan Scheitel sack, one of the 220-pound senior’s 11 total tackles, forced an Indian punt from their eight-yard line. Junior Henry Arnold fielded the ball at the PC 37 and took it to the house, crossing the goal line with 1:58 remaining in the half. Senior Sawyer Kean’s conversion run, the first of his three trips to the end zone, made it 22-6. Malone picked off Pearson on the ensuing PC possession, taking it back 25 yards to the 22. On first down, with less than a minute remaining until intermission, Malone hit junior Bailey Witt (three catches, 50 yards) for the first of two TD connections and then found Scheitel open for the conversion. In the span of 60 seconds, a one-possession potential upset of colossal proportions was a 30-6 Irish lead.
Kean’s first TD run of the night – an eight-yarder – capped a six-play, 60-yard drive to open the second half. Malone threw to Witt for the two-pointer to make it 38-6 Irish. Kean’s second TD run, a 19-yard jaunt, came with 8:11 to play and sent him to the stable with a game-high 112 yards on 18 carries. Sophomore Noah Keller ran in the conversion to end the scoring.
Surprisingly, Kean’s last carry gave him his first trip into triple digits this season and, compared to his gaudy junior year totals (1,532 yards, 34 TDs – 864 and 14 coming in the five playoff games), the heralded back’s numbers are moderate thus far (64.5 ypg.) behind a fresh-faced group of lineman.