AKRON — Big plays on offense, defense and special teams propelled host St. Vincent-St. Mary to a Week 2 victory over rival Walsh Jesuit on Friday night.
St. V-M and Walsh met at Green Street Stadium’s John Cistone Field seeking to bounce back from season-opening losses, and it was the Irish who impressed with a 35-0 win.
Junior Terrance Keyes Jr. led the Irish (1-1) by rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
“In practice we worked real hard and we watched a lot of film to fix up our mistakes,” Keyes said. “We came out with a mindset that we have got to get a win and we have got to bounce back. It was tough losing that first game [35-7 last week] at Massillon.”
The Week 2 result also gave Bobby Nickol his first victory as St. V-M coach.
“It is a great feeling to get this win,” Nickol said after being doused with a bucket of water. “More than anything, it is for these seniors and for them to come out here and establish their first win.”
Keyes gained 127 yards on 10 carries in the first half behind his starting offensive line of senior cousins Josh Stecz and Louie Stecz, senior Gabe Hamilton and juniors Savion Washington and Donta’ Wooldridge.
“We had the plan to run the ball down their throat and give it to them early,” Keyes said.
Keyes rushed for a 1-yard touchdown with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter and added a 3-yard touchdown run with 5:31 to go in the second quarter to make it 14-0. He flashed his quickness and speed prior to each short touchdown run with a long run – 31 yards on the first scoring drive and 58 yards on the second scoring drive.
St. V-M’s lead reached 21-0 with 2:31 to go in the second quarter when junior Luke Lindsay connected with senior Russell Cooper III for an 85-yard touchdown pass.
Keyes added a third rushing touchdown with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter when he ran 18 yards and broke multiple tackles en route to the end zone, and sophomore Jumacius Portis rumbled 35 yards for a rushing touchdown at 1:26.
Sophomore Luke Dobson converted all five of his extra point kicks for St. V-M, which finished with 406 yards of offense and limited Walsh to 89 yards.
“All week we really focused on shutting down the run and not giving up big plays on third down compared to last week,” St. V-M senior linebacker Jack Knox said.
Irish juniors David Hooks and Jahiem Peake, and seniors Anthony Ward, Nick Llewellyn and Damien Palmer each recorded multiple sacks.
“This is a big game for us,” said Ward, who also blocked a field goal attempt in the first quarter. “We all came out with our heads ready. Our defense was ready to roll.”
Added Llewellyn: “This is really big to get coach his first win here,”
Additionally, Irish seniors Dalen Peeks and Joshua Jones each snagged an interception.
“We are making a ton of mental mistakes,” Walsh coach Scott Beigie said. “I see the potential. We had one of the best weeks of practice we have had in a long time to be, so it is tough when we come out and have more penalties and missed plays.
“... The effort the defense put out there against Mayfield [in a 3-0 loss last week] I think is a display of what they are capable of. Credit St. V tonight, too. They have some big dudes up front and they came after us. They did a great job executing their stuff.”