Home Local Sports Logan Klein scores twice, defense comes to play as Saint Mark’s football...

Logan Klein scores twice, defense comes to play as Saint Mark’s football advances with win over Howard: Photo gallery

Logan Klein gets into the end zone with the game's first touchdown. Saint Mark's won its first postseason game since 2014. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s scored two first-half touchdowns, and the Spartans got a good defensive effort to defeat Howard, 14-6, in the first round of the DIAA Class 2A football tournament on Nov. 19 at the Graveyard. It was the first tournament victory for the Spartans since a first-round win over Concord on Nov. 15, 2014, the last year they made the postseason.

Neither team could get anything going in the first quarter. Howard, which won the last two Division II state tournaments before the move to three divisions this season, had the best shot, taking over at the Saint Mark’s 26 with 1:42 to go after an interception by Damien Ross. But two rushes resulted in losses totaling four yards, and passes on third and fourth down were incomplete.

Saint Mark’s took over at its own 30 on downs, and over the next seven or so minutes, they would put together the first scoring drive.

The first 10 plays of the drive were runs, as the Spartans used a number of players to move the ball down to the Wildcats’ 34. They included running backs T.J. Martin, who missed most of the season with an injury, along with Donovan Artis, Matt Hanich, and Logan Klein, as well as quarterback Jack Burns. It was Burns, in fact, who picked up four yards on the last of those 10 rushes to convert a fourth and 3.

On first down at the Howard 34, the Spartans threw their first pass of the drive, but they ended up losing 10 yards and a down because of intentional grounding. After a three-yard pickup on a run, Burns hit Jabri White with for a 10-yard pickup. Facing another fourth down, Burns threw to Klein on the right sideline, and he rumbled past a few defenders into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point clanged off the upright, and the Spartans had a 6-0 lead with 6:25 left in the half.

Saint Mark’s held the Wildcats to a three and out, and they went back on offense at their own 32 with 4:40 remaining in the half. Three plays later, White lined up to punt from the Spartans’ 39, but he kept the ball and ran left for seven yards and a first down. A penalty on Howard moved the ball to the Wildcats’ 43.

From there, it took just one play for the Spartans to add to their lead. Burns tossed a short pass to Klein over the middle, and he streaked down the field for his second score of the night. Burns ran in for the two-point conversion.

Both offenses struggled to get anything going in the second half, and Howard was hurt by an interception by Burns in the third quarter. The Wildcats, however, did find the end zone once. Their five-play, 65-yard drive culminated with a seven-yard touchdown run for quarterback Rashaan Matthews. The big play on the drive was a 42-yard run to the Spartans’ 19 by De’Mere Hollingsworth. Luke Watson prevented Howard from adding the two-point conversion by swatting down the Howard pass attempt.

Another turnover hurt the Wildcats in the fourth. They consistently stopped the Spartans’ running game, but after one Saint Mark’s drive, White’s punt glanced off the body of a Wildcats return man, and Burns was there to scoop up the loose ball.

From the Wildcats’ 33, the Spartans embarked on a 10-play drive that burned precious minutes off the clock. A penalty, however, cost the Spartans. A field goal by Jeremy Shannon was negated by a penalty, and the snap on the next play was botched. Howard had one more chance, getting the ball at its own 20 with 1:43 to go.

The Spartans kept the drive alive with a fourth-down offsides penalty that resulted in a first down for the Wildcats. But Howard lost 10 yards on an illegal pass, then could not move the ball any further.

Saint Mark’s improved to 8-3. The Spartans will travel to top-seeded Archmere for a quarterfinal-round matchup next weekend on a day and time to be announced. The Auks edged the Spartans, 10-7, on Oct. 9.

Howard finished the season 5-6.

All photos by Mike Lang.