ST. CHARLES – St. Charles East quarterback Jimmy Mitchell connected with Mo Flanigan for a 36-yard pass on play action to open Friday’s second half.
It was a welcome sight after a shaky start against Jacobs. Moments later, the sequence became clockwork.
East overwhelmed Jacobs down the stretch of its home opener, scoring on its first six possessions after halftime en route to a 41-26 win. Mitchell unquestionably keyed the surge, going 15 for 16 for 203 yards after starting 3 of 12 with an interception before halftime.
“We were flat. We went into the locker room after the first half, there were some guys hanging their heads,” Mitchell said. “And I was just like, ‘When we go out there, we’re just going to go punch them right in the mouth. We’re going to go score on the first drive and we’re not going to let up.’ I mean, that’s what happened.”
Mitchell finished with 271 yards through the air, with scoring passes to Phil Hopper, AJ Washington and Flanigan.
Fullback Ramon Lopez added two rushing touchdowns, while tailback Erik Anderson had another. The Saints had time to execute behind a jelling offensive line, which prompted many players to ponder “What if?” after coach Mike Fields’ impassioned postgame speech.
“That’s what coach Fields keeps preaching, is if we all put it together, then we can be a scary team,” said Flanigan, who had five receptions for 132 yards.
East (2-0) threw an interception and punted four times in its first half possessions, managing 71 yards of total offense. Clearing space wasn’t as easy for the offensive line as it would have seemed when senior center Ben Smith stormed out with the Saints’ spirit flag to lead the team onto the field for its home opener.
The defense’s overall control of the line of scrimmage helped the Saints stay close. East clamped down after Jacobs drove 80 yards on the game’s opening possession, which culminated in sophomore Sean Barnes’ 2-yard touchdown run.
Dual-threat Golden Eagles quarterback Bret Mooney and shifty tailback Josh Walker later uncorked respective runs of 16 and 41 yards, but Jacobs (0-2) stayed out of the end zone on both drives. One play after the Mooney scramble, Saints defensive lineman David Mason – playing football for the first time since middle school – read Mooney’s keeper perfectly, putting him down for a three-yard loss.
In addition to instinct, the Saints also benefited from Golden Eagles miscues. East blocked Jacobs’ point-after attempt on its first score, and later exhaled when an illegal block in the back penalty nullified what would have been an 84-yard punt return touchdown from Hunter Williams.
Williams scored on a 68-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to help Jacobs draw to within 34-20 with 8:20 remaining in the game. Although the Golden Eagles had an eruption of their own with 20 second-half points, East’s defense made stops when it needed to, including interceptions from Brannon Barry and Michael Grohe.
“We knew we had it, and all the conditioning we’ve done so far, it’s really paid off,” Saints defensive lineman Luke Spicer said. “We’re a really close-knit group, and we knew that we could pull this thing out, for sure.”
The game shifted in the third quarter after Jacobs dropped a would-be touchdown with Mooney passing down the left sideline on 4th and 7 from the East 37. The Saints scored 15 seconds later on a 3-yard Lopez run, taking a 14-6 lead on Pat Frio’s point-after.
“It’s definitely a tale of two halves. Those guys really played a heck of a second half and we just kind of folded after that [drop],” Golden Eagles coach Bill Mitz said. “The momentum just completely switched. Just completely switched. It was a big momentum-changer, and they took advantage of it.”
ST. CHARLES EAST 41, JACOBS 26
Jacobs 6 0 6 14 – 26
STCE 0 0 21 20 – 41
HOW THEY SCORED
J – Barnes 2 run (kick blocked), 6:15
E – Hopper 4 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 10:54
E – Lopez 3 run (Frio kick), 7:28
J – Walker 11 run (pass failed), 5:57
E – Washington 10 pass from Mitchell (Frio kick), 3:20
E – Anderson 1 run (Frio kick), 11:19
E – Flanigan 6 pass from Mitchell (kick blocked), 8:30
J – Jacobs 68 kickoff return (Mooney pass to Walker), 8:20
E – Lopez 5 run (Frio kick), 6:27
J – Williams 18 pass from Mooney (run failed), 2:57
RUSHING – Jacobs: Mooney 14-74, Walker 15-66, S. Barnes 9-45, M. Barnes 2-2. Totals: 40-187. St. Charles East: Anderson 20-54, Lopez 9-39, Mitchell 3-12. Totals: 32-105.
PASSING – Jacobs: Mooney 9-19-149-1-2. St. Charles East: Mitchell 18-28-271-3-1.
RECEIVING – Jacobs: Williams 4-98, Sargent 1-20, Walker 2-18, S. Barnes 1-8, McLain 1-5. St. Charles East: Flanigan 5-132, Barry 5-64, Hopper 4-32, Anderson 1-16, Washington 2-15, Munroe 1-12.
TOTAL OFFENSE: St. Charles East 376, Jacobs 336
Sophomore game: St. Charles East 27, Jacobs 6