Home Local Sports Potent ground game, swarming defense help Saint Mark’s football past A.I. duPont,...

Potent ground game, swarming defense help Saint Mark’s football past A.I. duPont, 41-0: Photo gallery

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MILLTOWN — Donovan Artis scored three touchdowns as Saint Mark’s used their ground attack to devastating effect in a 41-0 victory against A.I. duPont at The Graveyard in the 2021 football season opener for both teams on Sept. 3. The Spartans scored six times, all on runs, as their superior depth helped wear down the Tigers.

The Tigers had the ball near midfield in the middle of the first half following a personal foul on Saint Mark’s, but on third and one, the Spartans’ Luke Watson got into the Tigers’ backfield for a tackle that resulted in a seven-yard loss. A.I. punted, giving the Spartans the ball at their own 40, and the offense got untracked after a quick hiccup.

The first play lost three yards, but sophomore quarterback Chase Patalano hit Jabri White for 17 yards and a first down at the Tigers’ 46. Patalano went for 12 on a keeper, then hit Jack Burns for 14 and another first down, this time at the 20. A penalty on the defense moved the ball another 10 yards, and Artis did the rest, covering the final 10 yards on a first-down rush for the score.

The Spartans’ defense held A.I. to a three and out, with the offense taking possession at their own 45. After a few rush attempts, Artis did his thing again. This time, he went up the middle for his second touchdown from 49 yards out. The extra point was no good, and with 10:36 to go before the half, the lead was 13. It stayed that way into the intermission.

Saint Mark’s got the ball to open the second half, and they wasted no time increasing the lead. It was a two-play drive for 55 yards, with Artis taking the handoff on the second play and hopping around defenders for another score from 33.

Both teams forced punts on their opponents’ next possessions, but the Spartans were not without the ball long after theirs. The A.I. punt returner attempted to field the Spartans’ kick on the Tigers’ 2, but the swarming Spartans defense hit him and caused a fumble that Luke Najera recovered at the 1. Matt Hanich plunged in on first down for the 27-0 advantage.

On the Tigers’ ensuing possession, the Saint Mark’s defensive line went to work. Vaughn Highland ripped the ball from an A.I. running back, and Evan Pickering picked it up at the Tigers’ 38. White caught a pass for 20 yards, and on the next play, Najera went off left tackle and into the end zone.

Najera added the final touchdown of the evening after another fumble recovery.

Saint Mark’s (1-0) travels to Red Lion next Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. start, a game that originally was scheduled for Friday.

The Tigers fell to 0-1 and have their home opener against Polytech next Thursday at 6 p.m.

All photos by Jason Winchell.