MILLTOWN — Liam Mara scored five touchdowns to lead a potent Salesianum offense to a 54-7 win over Saint Mark’s in the annual football battle between the archrivals. It was the Sals’ fifth straight win over the Spartans.
Mara, a senior, took over as the featured back for the final regular season game, and he made good use of his turn in the spotlight. Sallies scored on their first seven offensive series, a streak that ended only in the fourth quarter with the clock running and backups on the field.
Saint Mark’s moved the ball well on the opening drive of the game, but the series ended on a turnover on downs at the Salesianum 45. The Sals moved the ball consistently on the ground, eventually finding themselves with a first and 10 at the Spartans’ 18. Mara carried once for seven yards, then took the second-down handoff over left tackle for an 11-yard scoring run with 4:43 left in the first.
They doubled that lead exactly 48 seconds later. After recovering a Spartans fumble at the 24-yard line, it took them three plays to score. The first run went for no gain, followed by a 22-yard gain for quarterback Dylan Mooney. Mara finished with a two-yard plunge.
The defense forced a punt, and Sallies took over at their own 44. A false start pushed them back to the 39, and Andrew Watkins got those five yards back and plenty more. His 38-yard scamper gave the Sals a first down at the Saint Mark’s 23. A facemask penalty on a first-down run put the Sals at the Spartans’ 9-yard line with a first down, and after a short run, Jack Kelley pulled in a deflected pass from Mooney for a 7-yard touchdown. After a missed extra point, it was 20-0.
Mooney threw his second TD pass of the night on the team’s first possession of the second quarter, a 25-yard strike to a wide-open Rasheen Caulk with 9:10 to go in the half.
The Spartans picked up their only points of the evening in quick fashion after the Caulk reception. On second and 12 from the Saint Mark’s 24-yard line, quarterback Christian Colmery threw a screen pass to Zion Glover behind the 20. Glover – the state’s reigning champion in the 100-yard dash – skipped around a few defenders and turned on the jets, racing to the end zone.
Mara completed the hat trick before halftime, scoring for the third time on a 13-yard run up the middle with 5:43 left in the second quarter. He picked up where he left off as the second half began, completing a 64-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown on a counter play that made the score 41-7. He did most of the work on the Sals’ next drive, accounting for 56 of the 61 yards with four carries. The last one was a 9-yard touchdown run up the middle.
The final score came on an interception return early in the fourth quarter. That extra-point attempt was blocked.
No statistics were available early Saturday morning. The Sals improved to 6-4 and will wait to see if that is good enough for a spot in the six-team Division I tournament field. That will be announced Sunday afternoon on 302Sports.com.
The Spartans finished 6-4.