Saints slam Silver State, 32-6
EAGLE-VAIL – It is hard to imagine that it’s possible to have a critical defensive play when you’re sitting on a 20-0 lead at the beginning of the second quarter.
But that was the case Saturday at Huskies Stadium with Vail Christian football, leading Silver State by 20. The Patriots had mishandled a kickoff and were starting their drive on their own 2.
And drive they did down to the Saints’ 9. The defending league champions, who had spent the last three years pounding the Saints, were making it a game.
Then came first-and-goal from the 9.
“I yelled before the snap that we need the ball. We need to get that ball right now,” Saints linebacker Nate Simon said. “I just jerked it from them and we were going the other way. It was nice. it was definitely a turning point.”
Simon stripped Silver State running back Justin Mantelli. Saints’ ball.
It was a turning point in so many ways. First, the Saints were on their way to a 32-6 pounding of the Patriots, which head coach Bob Isbell called “the biggest win in the history of the program.” That play was just one of a myriad of huge plays from the Saints’ defense – Vail Christian was plus-4 when it came to turnovers, for starters.
Throw in four touchdown passes from quarterback P.J. Bevan and some razzle-dazzle from Isbell’s play book and the what you had at the end of the day was a very emotional and elated Saints locker room.
“The past three years, they’ve handled us pretty handily,” Isbell said. “A lot of these guys started in those games years ago and just hung in there and kept playing. They just played so well as a team today.”
“This is so big after getting pounded by them for three years now and making a statement like we did – 32-6,” Bevan said. “And scoring on our first three drives. …”
Speaking of those three drives, the Saints got good field possession on their 48, courtesy of a nice three-and-out from the D. The offense needed five plays to find the end zone, capped by a 30 yard pass from Bevan to Kyle Morris.
Vail Christian’s defense picked up the first of four turnovers on the day on the Pats’ next possession, so the Saints found themselves on their 48. They needed just one play this time – the old hook-and-ladder. Bevan hit Rex Roberts, who flicked it to Robbie Brgoch and the Saints were up 14-0 just three minutes into game.
The Saints defense wasted no time giving the ball back to the offense on the next play from scrimmage. Roberts intercepted Silver State’s Joey Johnson, putting the offense on the Pats’ 47.
This time, Vail Christian needed six plays. Bevan found Brgoch for 14 yards on the opening play of the drive. Simon rambled for another 16 yards to overcome a holding penalty. Toss in six yards on the ground from Brgoch and a 19-yard TD pass to Roberts and the Saints were cruising at 20-0.
But then came the Patriots drive – 14 plays, 89 yards. That took 7:17 off the clock. But on the 15th play, Simon came through with the strip.
“That was real big because, I think, it was 20-0 at the time and they were finally getting into their rhythm,” Isbell said. “They’re big and strong. They pounded it in. They were getting back into the football game. So that was a big play. The defense made so many big plays all day long.”
That’s an understatement, Coach.
The Blue Crush sent the Patriots packing three and out on their next drive. On the Silver State’s next possession, John McGee and Stephen Shainholz shut down the Patriots’ drive at the Vail Christian 14 with a sack. The Patriots tried a field goal, but the snap was bobbled and Simon and company were there to smother the ball.
The Saints offense took the ball from there for 73 yards and six more points. The highlights of that drive included 13 yards from new fullback Andreas Bauer and an 11-yard touchdown scamper from Brgoch.
The Saints looked like they were sitting on their lead a little too much in the third quarter, but the defense again picked up the slack with a spectacular goal-line stand, which included great plays from Roberts, Simon, Morris, Kyle Bruntz and Andreas Bauer.
The offense answered with a 91-yard drive of its own. A screen pass from Bevan to Simon for 68 yards ended the Saints’ scoring.
Though the defense did allow the Patriots into the end zone with 8:32 left in the game, Vail Christian pretty much spent the rest of game, pounding Silver State’s offense into the ground. Roberts had another pick and the game ended appropriately with Silver State’s Johnson onhis back, courtesy of Bauer and Shainholtz and Will Guffey.
Bevan ended the day with eight completions in 15 attempts for 205 yards and four touchdowns.
“Those four touchdown passes, all the credit goes to the linemen and the receivers who bring down those balls because a couple of them weren’t thrown particularly well,” Bevan said with a laugh. “It was huge to go on our first three drives and put points on the board. That put them back on their heels.”
And the Saints’ O-line got dinner from the quarterback as a reward.
“I got 10 bucks in my wallet, so five happy meals and we put the names in the hat for who gets the toy,” Bevan joked.
On a serious note, the Saints head into Homecoming weekend, when they will host Maranatha Christian. Avoiding a letdown is a big key. The Saints pounded Longmont Christian in the first week of the season and responded the next week with a down effort in a 16-14 loss to Westland Christian.
“That week that we lost to Westland Christian, we worked out very poorly,” Isbell said. “The seniors really got together and made a commitment that every week they were going to get better and better. They think they understand that now. Their leadership is so strong, they’re not going to let that happen again.”
Just for kicks: In the second quarter, Will Guffey, Simon and Shainholtz teamed up for yet another sack. … About the only thing Bevan did wrong Saturday was on the final play of the first half when he took a 27 yard loss by running off the final three seconds of the first half. Without that play, he ran for 43 yards on six carries. … Brgoch led the Saints in rushing with 12 carries for 48 yards. He was also the team’s leading receiver with two catches for 62 yards. … Roberts had three catches for 44 yards.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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