SOUTH ELGIN – The St. Charles East football team held off a fourth quarter surge by South Elgin to preserve a 35-27, season opening victory on Saturday.
South Elgin pulled within one touchdown with 2:49 left to go in the game, their third tally of the period, on a 6-yard pass from quarterback Rob Cuda to wide receiver Tyler Christensen. The two-point conversion failed.
After East recovered the onside kick, the Saints faced a fourth-and-1 situation with 1:31 left on the clock. The Saints opted to go for the first down, and running back Ramon Lopez scampered 13 yards down the right sideline for the conversion. Quarterback Jimmy Mitchell took a knee twice to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
“It was a game of two halves,” Saints coach Mike Fields said. “First half I thought we came out and clicked on both offense and defense. The first series in the second half set the tone for an ugly second half. I give South Elgin all the credit in the word. They kept fighting and it gives them an opportunity to build off of … and gives us a lot to work on.”
“At the end of the second half I was really proud of the kids because they didn’t quit,” said new Storm coach Pat Pistorio.
At the start of the game, it looked like East might be on the verge of a blowout win.
Aided by a Storm miscue, the Saints found the end zone on their first two possessions and led 14-0 after only 3:30 of play.
East scored on its first play from scrimmage on the Storm’s 43-yard line.
Mitchell passed to Erik Anderson, who then lateraled the ball to Mitch Munroe, who ran the ball across the goal line. Fields said the play was especially designed to honor Scott Munroe, Mitch’s father, who died from cancer in July.
On South Elgin’s next possession, the Saints' David Mason recovered a bad snap on the Storm 11-yard line. Four plays later, Mitchell found Brannon Barry in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“We started off real strong with those two unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter,” Mitchell said. “We came out a little bit flat in the second half.”
The Saints extended their lead late in the second quarter. With 3:59 left in the half, Mitchell connected with Mo Flanigan on a 23-yard pass and two minutes later on a 12-yarder to Munroe. East led, 28-0, at the half.
South Elgin finally found the end zone on its first possession of the second half on an 86-yard pass from Cuda to Christensen.
East completed its scoring with 42 seconds left in the third quarter on another Mitchell pass, connecting with Barry for a 36-yard score.
Kicker Pat Frio, who found the uprights on all five of his attempts, put the Saints up 35-7 to end the third quarter.
Barry also foiled a South Elgin score late in the first quarter when he batted away a Cuda pass intended for Nelson in the end zone.
“They ran a guy from the other side right behind me,” Barry said. “The lucky thing was that I was able to read the quarterback's eyes and turn around and recover fast enough to hit the guy and knock the ball away.”
The Storm started their comeback with a touchdown only nine seconds into the last frame on an 8-yard pass from Nick Menken to Cuda. Less than a minute later, Cuda connected with Andrew Kamienski on a 12-yard toss.
The win marked East's first season opening victory in five tries for Fields.
St. Charles East 35 South Elgin 27
South Elgin 0 0 7 20
St. Charles East 14 14 7 0
HOW THEY SCORED
SCE - Munroe 43 run (Frio kick), 10:15
SCE - Barry 6 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 8;30
SCE – Flanigan 23 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 3:59
SCE – Munroe 12 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 2:08
SE –Christensen 86 pass from Cuda (Bree kick), 8:37
SCE Barry 36 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 0:42
SE – Cuda 8 pass from Menken (Bree kick), 11:51
SE – Kamienski 12 pass from Cuda (Bree kick), 10:53
SE – Christensen 6 pass from Cuda (2 point conversion failed) 2:40.
RUSHING – St. Charles East: Munroe 3-53, Anderson 10-43, Lopez 8-4, Total 21-110. South Elgin: Griffin : 14-57, Cuda 10-(-21) , Total: 24-36
PASSING – St. Charles East: Mitchell: 20-34-4-270, South Elgin: Cuda 15-30-3-300, Menken 1-8-1-8
RECEIVING – St. Charles East: Hopper 2-29, Munroe 7-100, Flanigan 4-45, Washington 1-6, Barry 5-79, Anderson 1-10, Total 20-270. South Elgin: Marotta 7-123, Christensen 4-126, Nelson 1-12, Menken 2-29, Kamienski 2-13, Cuda1-8, Total 16-308
TOTAL YARDS – St. Charles East : 380 South Elgin: 344