ST. CLAIR — If the ground game isn’t there, no problem. Just go to your Big Play offense.
That’s exactly what the St. Clair/Loyola football team did Friday night, earning a 28-14 Valley Conference victory over Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.
After a lot of play between the 30s, during which the defenses dictated play, St. Clair/Loyola struck with a 55-yard pass down the left sideline from Mason Ward to Logan Carlson. Simon Morgan’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 10:19 to go in the half.
“I’ve only known Mason for a little over a month but we’ve become pretty good friends,” said Carlson, who is a transfer from St. James that attends Loyola. “I just kind of gave him a nod, letting him know I could beat the safety, and he threw a beautiful pass.”
JWP came back about six minutes later to tie the game when Jacob Cahill got behind a couple of defenders on the left side. The pass from Karson Lindsay was tipped by a St. Clair/Loyola defensive back into the waiting arms of Cahill who streaked into the end zone untouched for a 60-yard score. The PAT tied the game at 7.
On their ensuing possession, Spartans’ quarterback Carlson squirted up the gut, veered to his left and scampered into the end zone untouched for a 75 yard touchdown. The point-after gave St. Clair-Loyola a 14-0 lead.
Carlson came up with another big play a short time later, hitting Simon Morgan with a 55-yard strike down the right side line. That helped set up a 3-yard scoring pass from Carlson to Sam Orcutt with 13 seconds left in the half. The PAT left St. Clair/Loyola with a 21-7 lead at intermission.
The visiting Bulldogs took the second-half kickoff and turned in a big play of their own. Lindsay threw a long pass to Jack Morsching that was again tipped by a Spartans’ defender, only to end up in the hands of the receiver for a 48-yard score.
That closed the gap to 21-14 but St. Clair/Loyola sealed the win with nine minutes to play when Brandon Miller came through with his second interception of the game. He turned a batted Lindsay pass into a 95-yard scoring return for the final touchdown.
“On my first (interception) I knew I had pretty good coverage and turned around in time to make the play,” Miller said. “On the last one I just happened to be in the right place when our guy tipped the ball.”
Spartan’s head coach Dustin Bosshart had to shake his head a little after the game.
“There were a lot of big plays by both teams. They weren’t letting us get around the corner so we had to go to the air. We’re blessed to have some good athletes in those skill positions.”
The win improves St. Clair/Loyola to 1-1. JWP falls to 0-2.