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Fast start sends Saints past Wolves


St. Mary's running back Isaac Felchle (22) finds the end zone for his second touchdown against Watford City during Wednesday night's game at Smrekar Field. 10-20-2021

It would have been hard to script a better opening half for the St. Mary’s Saints.

The first four possessions resulted in touchdowns, the defense picked off a pair of passes and held Watford City to negative yards on the ground and built a 27-0 lead en route to a 41-2 Class A West Region victory over the Wolves in Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Smrekar Field.

“I was really pleased,” St. Mary's head coach Dan Smrekar said. “The kids seemed ready to play and I thought offensively we executed really well between the pass and the run. I’m really happy with the effort and the energy they had.”

St. Mary’s had five offensive possessions in the first half. The first four ended with Saints TDs, and the fifth, coming after a Tommy Kraljic interception with 24 seconds left before intermission, consisted of a Nick Schumacher kneel-down to send the Saints into the locker room with a four-touchdown advantage.

Nick Schumacher threw for 121 yards, all in the first half, and ran for a score. Isaac Felchle rushed for two touchdowns and Isaac Vandal another.

“Offensively I thought we did a real nice job with throwing the ball early and then being able to run the ball the last two possessions of the first half,” Smrekar said.

Watford City tried to catch St. Mary’s off guard with a game-opening onside kick. But the Saints covered it and took advantage of the short field, driving 49 yards in nine plays, capped by a Felchle 6-yard touchdown run.

After a Clayton Marohl interception halted the Wolves’ first drive, the Saints marched 42 yards in seven plays. A 20-yard strike from Schumacher to Felchle on fourth-and-16 set up Felchle’s 10-yard TD run to make it 14-0.

“We came out excited and with a lot of energy to play,” Smrekar said. “We had a good short week of practice and they came out ready to play.”

The Wolves drove from their own 31 to the Saints’ 13 before turning the ball over on downs.

St. Mary’s drove 79 yards in six plays, with Isaac Vandal’s 36-yard run setting up his 13-yard TD carry for a 20-0 lead.

The Wolves picked up one first down before having to punt, and the Saints went 60 yards in nine plays before Schumacher scored on a 1-yard QB keeper for a 27-0 lead.

At the half, St. Mary’s had 120 yards rushing on 17 carries and Schumacher had 121 yards passing for 241 yards of total offense. Watford City’s Izaak Boekelman threw for 84 yards but had two interceptions and the Wolves had nine carries for minus-2 yards rushing.

“We did a great job on the run,” Smrekar said. “They did a great job of throwing the ball on us and picking the holes where they did. They couldn’t run the ball so they found some space to throw it. We bent a little bit but we didn’t break. We kept them in front of us and not able to run the ball.”

The defense stifled the Wolves all night long, picking off four passes and holding Watford City to 126 yards total offense – 131 through the air and minus-5 yards on 21 carries on the ground.

Will Lengenfelder and Kraljic added third-quarter touchdown runs for the Saints, who picked up 15 first downs to the Wolves’ seven.

Watford City got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when a St. Mary’s punt snap sailed through the end zone for a safety.

Vandal led the Saints (8-1, 3-1 West Region) with 103 yards rushing on nine carries.

Boekelman completed 8 of 14 passes for 84 yards but had four passes picked off. Backup Calvin Garmann connected on 2 of 6 passes for 47 yards for the Wolves (0-9, 0-4 West Region).

The Saints now turn their attention to the playoffs, with the postseason pairings set to be announced this weekend. St. Mary’s will likely get a high seed and an opening-round game at home on Friday, Oct. 29.

“We need to get a little healthy, we’ve got a couple of guys dinged up,” Smrekar said. “But I think what we’ve got to make sure we do is to continue to get better. We’re getting a good mixture of run and pass and defensively we’ve really been playing well the last three weeks. We’ve just got to continue to get better.

“Like I told the kids, the real season starts now.”


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