Home Local Sports Saint Mark’s football powers past Red Lion, improves to 2-0 on the...

Saint Mark’s football powers past Red Lion, improves to 2-0 on the season

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The Spartans' Tahj Johnson stiff arms a Lions defender. Johnson scored a touchdown later in the game. Dialog photo/Jason Winchell

MILLTOWN — Big things are expected of the Saint Mark’s football team this season, and the Spartans certainly delivered Sept. 10 against Red Lion, overwhelming the Lions, 48-0, in front of a huge throng at the Graveyard.

The Spartans’ size advantage was evident from the get-go as they returned the opening kickoff to their own 37-yard line. Senior running back Donovan Artis was the featured back on this drive, carrying the ball three times, the final one right up the middle for a 35-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game.

The first defensive series for the Spartans set the tone for the night. Saint Mark’s linemen and linebackers continually got through the Lions’ front for sacks or tackles for loss. Aidan Zellman had a sack on the first series, forcing a fourth and 20. Red Lion’s punt was shanked, and the Spartans had terrific field position at the 22.

Quarterback Chase Patalano kept the drive going on fourth and 14, rolling right and hitting Jude Campbell for 17 yards at the 8. TJ Martin bulled his way up the middle for a Saint Mark’s touchdown.

The Spartans added a third touchdown in the final minute of the first. The big play of the drive was a 65-yard catch and run to Logan Klein down to the Lions’ 10. Artis finished things with an 8-yard scamper around the left side as the lead grew to 21-0.

Massimo Paoli was the defensive star on the next series, picking off a Lions pass at the Red Lion 45 and returning it to the Lions’ 7. Matt Hanich made it a one-play drive, carrying the ball up the gut for another score 56 seconds into the second quarter.

The Spartans’ defense was stellar all night, keeping the visitors from mounting a serious challenge. Unofficially, junior defensive end Jake O’Donoghue had six sacks, and teammates Caleb King and Luke Watson also joined in. The team had eight sacks in the first half, holding Red Lion to -44 yards on the ground in the opening two quarters.

Tahj Johnson got on the scoreboard for the Spartans on their first possession of the second half, taking a short pass from Patalano, then dodging and outrunning defenders for a 50-yard score.

Klein made a leaping catch for a 17-yard score from James Campbell later in the third, and Keigan Barnes closed out the scoring with a short running TD early in the fourth.

Final statistics were not available Saturday morning. Saint Mark’s (2-0) travels to Woodbridge on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

Red Lion (0-1) hosts Delmar on Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

All photos by Jason Winchell.