ST. MARYS — St. Marys set the tone on both sides of the ball right from the opening kick on its way to a commanding 34-7 victory over Ridgway at Dutch Country Stadium Friday night.
The battle of unbeatens saw the Dutchmen defense open the game by forcing a three-and-out despite back-to-back offsides penalties.
St. Marys then started its first drive of the night just shy of the 50 at its own 49-yard line.
James Davis, who broke out for a huge night on the ground, opened the drive with an 18-yard burst before Christian Coudriet connected with Michael Fitzgerald for 17 yards as the Dutch quickly found themselves in the red zone.
Davis then used a pair of 8-yard carries, the second of which going for a touchdown, to put the home side on the board just 3:18 into the game.
Vinicius Nunes added the extra-point to put St. Marys ahead 7-0.
“I thought the defense set the tone right off the bat and got our whole team confidence going and got us momentum,” St. Marys head coach Chris Dworek said.
“In high school that momentum is so important and it was just a perfect start.”
On the night, Davis finished with 168 yards rushing on 25 carries while also coming up with an interception on defense for the Dutch.
The Elkers were able to pick up one first down on their second drive of the game by virtue of a penalty on the defense, but were eventually forced to punt from near midfield.
Starting on its own 9-yard line, St. Marys’ offense continued to roll, driving back into the red zone, with the big play coming on a 22-yard connection between Coudriet and Mitchell Reiter.
Coudriet finished the game 16-of-24 passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns to one interception.
Reiter accounted for 97 of those yards on six grabs, while Fitzgerald made seven catches for 78 yards.
Coudriet looked to find the end zone with his legs on a 2nd-and-8 play from the 11, but had the ball jarred free just outside the end zone, as the Elkers’ Domenic Allegretto recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
St. Marys eventually took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter, as a lengthy 11-play drive that stretched from the first to second quarter gave it a two-score lead.
Coudriet capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Logan Mosier on a third-and-goal play to make it 14-0 with 8:01 left in the second quarter.
Ridgway later capitalized on an interception by Tyler Merritt to put up its lone points of the night.
The pick set the Elkers up just shy of midfield, as the big play of the drive came when Ben Briggs hit Wil Howard on a wide receiver screen for a 40-yard pickup.
Camron Marciniak found the end zone on the next play, punching it in from five yards out on the ground to cut the score in half at 14-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the half, as St. Marys eventually took the seven-point lead into the half.
The Dutchmen opened the second half on a strong note with an 11-play, 68-yard drive that saw Coudriet go 5-of-7 through the air.
The fifth of the junior’s completions on the drive went to Fitzgerald on a slant route across the middle, as he beat his defender and stretched out to make the catch at the goal line for a 21-yard touchdown.
A missed extra-point left the score at 20-7 with 7:32 to go in the third quarter.
The Elkers looked for a response, but Briggs had his 3rd-and-17 pass across the middle intercepted by Davis, setting the home team’s offense up in plus territory at the 27.
Five plays later, on a 3rd-and-10, Reiter hauled in a pass from Coudriet at the near pylon for a 15-yard score just 3:30 after Fitzgerald’s score to balloon the lead to 27-7.
Another long drive, this time 12 plays and 65 yards led to the final score of the game, as Davis punched it in from four yards out with 56 seconds left in the game to bring the final score to 34-7.
“After playing pretty well the first three games, we play everybody again, so it’s going to be a lot tougher,” Dworek said.
“That’s what we’re going to stress Monday, there are a lot of areas we can improve on.”
Both teams are back in action next week at home, as St. Marys (3-0) welcomes Kane while Ridgway (2-1) hosts Bradford.
ST. MARYS 34
Score by Quarters
SM—James Davis 8 run (Vinicius Nunes kick), 8:42
SM—Logan Mosier 5 pass from Christian Coudriet (Vinicius Nunes kick), 8:01
R—Camron Marciniak 5 run (Aiden Zimmerman kick), 1:55
SM—Michael Fitzgerald 21 pass from Christian Coudriet (kick missed), 7:32
SM—Mitchell Reiter 15 pass from Christian Coudreit (Vinicius Nunes kick), 4:02
SM—James Davis 4 run (Vinicius Nunes kick), 0:56
Ridgway—Eric Salberg 3-0, Ben Briggs 8-11, Camron Marciniak 5-1, Domenic Allegretto 1-(-3), Ricky Delhunty 1-6, Team: 3-(-8).
St. Marys—James Davis 25-168, Christian Coudriet 9-6, Conner Bressler 5-38.
Ridgway—Ben Briggs 7-of-14, 95 yds., 0 TD, 1 Int.
St. Marys—Christian Coudriet 16-of-24, 200 yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.
Ridgway—Dominic Cherry 1-11, Wil Howard 2-62, Camron Marciniak 3-12, Alex Bon 1-10.
St. Marys—Michael Fitzgerald 7-78, Mitchell Reiter 6-97, Logan Mosier 2-18, Carter Chadsey 1-7.
St. Marys—James Davis.