RED LION — After Red Lion Christian Academy tied its football game against Saint Mark’s on Sept. 11, the Spartans marched right down the field to regain the lead, then held off a few Lions challenges down the stretch for a 21-20 victory. The Spartans improved to 2-0 with the narrow win.
Daejon Jones had tied the game at 14 on a 48-yard scamper untouched down the right sideline with 8:28 to go in the third. A penalty, however, forced the Lions to kick off from deep in their own territory, and Logan Klein fielded the kickoff at midfield and returned it 16 yards to the Red Lion 34.
Facing a third and five from the 29, quarterback Chase Patalano found Jack Burns open near the goal line. Burns was tackled inside the one, and Patalano untied the game with a keeper on the next play. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game.
With a quarter and a half to go, this one was far from over. The teams traded punts, with the Spartans’ boot giving the Lions the ball at their own 17 late in the third. On first down, Jones took a screen pass from quarterback Mac Krauss and went for 43 yards. After an incomplete pass, Breon Simms rumbled for 16 yards. Two plays and a penalty later, the Lions were facing a third and 22 from the Spartans’ 36, but Krauss connected with Jones again, this time for 29 yards to make it first and goal from the 7.
That marked the end of the third, and the Lions went right after it in the fourth. Jones carried the ball off the right tackle into the end zone, delighting the big crowd at Red Lion and pulling the home team to within a point. The snap for the extra point, however, was high, and holder Seth McGroerty grabbed it and headed for the end zone. The Saint Mark’s defense stopped him inside the 1, keeping the lead at a point.
The Spartans got another nice kickoff return, setting up at their own 40. They turned to the ground game, which had success all night since Red Lion was without their two biggest linemen. Donovan Artis and Matt Hanich each had carries, but a series of penalties kept the Spartans from gaining too much ground.
Facing a fourth and six from the Lions’ 41, the Spartans lined up to punt, but the Lions’ Shane Caleb worked through the line and blocked the kick. He also recovered the ball and took off. Saint Mark’s caught up to him, causing a fumble during the tackle. The Spartans got the ball back at their own 33 with 7:10 remaining following the turnover.
The Spartans proceeded to burn all but the final 42 seconds by the time they turned it over on downs at the Red Lion 16. Tahj Johnson sealed the win with a leaping interception with 29 seconds to go.
Krauss and Kyle Manley connected on a 47-yard scoring pass late in the first quarter to put Red Lion on the scoreboard first, but the Spartans with a six-minute, 75-yard drive that ended with Patalano going three yards on a keeper for the equalizer. After forcing a Lions punt, the Spartans went 70 yards on seven plays, the last one a plunge from a yard out by Donovan Artis with 2:13 remaining in the first half.
Saint Mark’s begins a three-game homestand on Friday against Woodbridge at 7 p.m. Red Lion (0-1) travels to Delmar at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
All photos by Mike Lang.