MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s scored one touchdown in each of the first three quarters of its football game Oct. 12 against Newark, and that was enough to overcome to big second-half plays by the Yellow Jackets in a 24-14 win. The homecoming victory snapped a two-game Spartans losing streak.
A strong running attack, combined with stellar defense, propelled the Spartans to a two-touchdown lead at the half. But Newark refused to fold, leading to an entertaining second half.
The Yellow Jackets returned the second-half kickoff to their own 37-yard line, but the first two plays were an incomplete pass and a pass that lost them three yards. On third and 13, however, that all changed. Quarterback Mele Stallings dropped back and fired the ball to receiver Kamau Lately near midfield. Lately shook off two would-be tacklers, then eluded another with a nifty cut at the Spartans’ 20. A few seconds later, he was in the end zone, making it a 14-7 Saint Mark’s lead. The drive took three plays and 82 seconds.
The Spartans responded on their next drive. Starting at midfield, they needed just five plays to get those points back.
Workhorse running back Jeremiah Moore did the dirty work. He carried the first four plays. The first went for eight yards, the next for 20, putting the Spartans at the Newark 22. After losing a yard, Moore gained four to set up a third and 8 at the 19. Quarterback Jack LaFrankie faked a handoff and rolled right, hitting a wide-open Patrick Palm in the front of the end zone. With 8:16 left in the third, the margin was back to 14.
Neither team could muster much offense until the end of the third quarter. Newark gained possession at its own 9-yard line following a Spartans punt in the closing minutes of the third. A four-yard loss on a rush, followed by an incomplete pass, forced the Yellow Jackets into a third and 14 from their own 5. Stallings kept the drive alive by hitting Lately over the middle for 15.
The quarter ended after the first down play from the 20, but after the teams changed ends, Stallings and Lately connected once more. This time, Lately leaped to catch a pass, broke one tackle and flat outran the defense down the left sideline. His 80-yard reception cut the Spartans’ lead to 21-14.
The next drive was key for the Spartans. They took over at their own 38 and embarked on a 14-play drive that burned nearly eight minutes off the clock. It culminated with a 30-yard field goal by Brandon Keen for three important insurance points. Moore carried the ball on nine of those plays, including twice for third-down conversions.
The first half was more in the Spartans’ control. The first drive primarily featured Blaec Sanders in the backfield as Saint Mark’s marched downfield primarily on the ground. That drive ended with Moore scampering 21 yards around right end for a touchdown.
The second Spartans score came at the end of a nine-play drive. It started at the Newark 40 after the Jackets turned the ball over on downs. Moore carried the first three plays for 10 total yards, followed by a Sanders run for 12. On second and 9 from the 17, Saint Mark’s lost 10 yards on a fumble, setting up a third and 19 from the 27. Palm caught a pass for 17 yards, and Moore ran on fourth down to the one. Moore bulled his way in on the next play to double the lead to 14-0.
Final statistics were not available late Friday night. Jack Burns did have two interceptions for the Spartans. Saint Mark’s (4-2) travels to Delaware Military Academy next Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Yellow Jackets fell to 2-4 and host Howard next Saturdat at 10:30 a.m.