MIDDLETOWN — Salesianum was without its primary offensive weapon, but the Sals overcame a sluggish offensive start to take a 34-7 decision at Appoquinimink in a battle of Division I football unbeatens on Sept. 20. Joey Montooth, the featured back in Watkins’ absence, scored twice in the victory.
Neither offense was able to do much in the first quarter, as the Salesianum defense continually throttled the Jaguars’ offense, and the Sals hurt themselves with an interception and penalties. The only points came on a 24-yard field goal by Hunter Simmons with 4:45 left in the first.
More Sallies defense forced a punt four and half minutes into the second, and that’s when Montooth got the Sals’ offense started, at least for one drive. On the first play of a drive following an Appo punt, Montooth took a handoff from quarterback Dylan Mooney at the Salesianum 12-yard line, danced through the middle of the line and took off. Eighty-eight yards later, the Sals were celebrating a 10-0 lead.
“Great hole, I just hit it. I saw the guy come from behind, so I cut it to the left a little bit. It was good from there. The line did a good job,” Montooth said.
Mooney said that run gave the Sals a boost. “He hit that run, and we just started going from there. We just had to get over that hump and score.”
That was it for the scoring in the half. Salesianum received the kick to open the third quarter and embarked on a drive that ate up nearly half of the 12-minute stanza. The drive, which began at the Sals’ 31, mainly featured Montooth and Liam Mara on the ground, but it stalled at the Jags’ 19. Hunter Simmons drilled a 36-yard field goal to extend the lead to 13-0.
Again, Simmons’ leg, a fumble and the defense of Salesianum set up the offense for its next score. The Jaguars began at their own 2 following a dropped kickoff return, and Sallies forced Appo to punt from its own end zone. Mooney and the Sals got the ball back at the Jags’ 36 with 3:52 left in the third.
Salesianum went to the ground game, with Mooney keeping the drive alive by gaining three yards on a fourth-and-1 from Appo’s 17. He then carried for six yards as the third quarter expired. When play resumed, Montooth carried once for two yards, then again for five to put the offense at the one. Mara bulled his way into the end zone, and it was 20-0.
A penalty on the kickoff pinned the Jaguars at their own five, and on first down, they fumbled, with the Sals recovering. The first play was a play-action pass to Montooth, who scored his team’s second touchdown in 24 seconds. With the way Sallies’ defense was playing, Appoquinimink’s hill was too high to climb.
Mooney found a leaping Jack Kelley from 17 yards out for the Sals’ last touchdown. Appo ended the shutout when Jordan Henry scampered 31 yards around right end with 2:09 remaining.
Mooney said the pass to Kelley worked just as planned.
“We worked on it at practice. He had the height advantage. I threw it up and trusted him to catch it, and he did his thing,” he said.
Montooth said the Sals were ready for a fight from Appo.
“It was a good challenge. We had to step up. They gave us a good game. They’re a good team with a good team,” he said.
Final statistics were not available late Friday night. The Sals improved to 3-0; they face a dangerous Smyrna team on the road next Friday at 7 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got this week to practice, and get ready and give it our best,” Mooney said.
The Jaguars fell to 2-1. They host William Penn next Friday at 7 p.m.