SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Catholic Memorial came out hungry in search for their first win of the season as they took on a St. John’s Shrewsbury (2-1) team that had won their first two games to begin their season.
No. 18 CM (1-1) controlled the game in the first half as their defense denied multiple St. John’s drives and the visitors held a 14-0 halftime lead.
Despite a back-and-forth game and an aggressive St. John’s comeback in the second half CM held on to win their first game of the 2011 campaign, 28-20.
“At the end of the game my four captains [Donovan Henry, Armani Reeves, A.J. Doyle and Camren Williams], who are terrific football players, made plays for us,” CM head coach Alex Campea said. “They stepped up when we needed them.”
Reeves stole the show on the day as the Penn State bound wide receiver and running back scored two touchdowns on the ground and rushed for 98 yards while hauling in a touchdown reception on the day.
“We played very well” Reeves said. “A couple times when they scored in the second half we bounced back and made the plays we needed to. That is how we are going to have to play every week to be successful.”
The third quarter was a back and forth chess match with both teams vying for field position as their defenses held strong.
The fourth quarter featured alternating touchdowns as St. John’s got their offense going with CM answering on consecutive big scoring runs by Reeves.
A 55-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Connor Kurtz to freshman wide receiver Taquar Stewart would get the Pioneers back to within eight points (28-20) with 3:02 remaining in the game.
St. John’s kicker Sean Gavin executed a successful onside kick that bounced off a CM front line player and back in the hands of Gavin. Despite the midfield opportunity the CM defense held and stopped the potential game tying drive to win the game.
Doyle, who had a touchdown run and pass on the day, also ate up crucial yards in the second half on the ground and sealed the game with a kneel down.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full,” Campea said. “St. John’s is a terrific football team. They are well coached and well disciplined. We knew we were in for a hard game and we expected that. It was great to get this win today.
Reeves scored both of his touchdown runs on possessions that followed St. John’s scores in the fourth quarter.
“He is a difference maker,” said Campea. “He is as exciting of a player as I have ever had, maybe that I have ever seen.”
Both of his runs were identical jet sweeps that came right to left as he beat the Pioneer’s defense to the edge and out ran the defense to the end zone.
“They got me to the outside and it was all about seeing who could catch up to me,” said Reeves. “I need to make big plays for this team and that is pretty much what I did today.”
The CM defense gave up chunks of yard s at times but came up with some key third and fourth down stops to keep the Pioneers from gaining momentum and scoring. No drive was more important in the game as the winning stop when St. John’s had the ball in CM territory driving for the game tying score.
“They are a good team,” said Campea. “We knew they were going to make some plays but we were fortunate enough to make some plays on fourth down, especially at the end.”
Despite the tough inside running from St. John’s senior running back Sean Wilson (32 carries for 117 yards) the Pioneers could not get their down field passing game going.
“They were zeroing in on Sean today,” said St. John’s head coach John Andreoli.” They were also taking away some of the throws that we had been making in the first two games. We want to make the high percentage throws that we really could not seem to get today. They did a nice job in man coverage and took away a lot of the underneath throws that we typically use to open up our running game.”
CM (1-1) --- 6 8 0 14 - 28
SJS (2-1) --- 0 0 0 20 - 20
CM – Armani Reeves 6-yard pass from A.J Doyle (kick failed)
CM – A.J. Doyle 1-yard run (2-point conversion pass from Doyle to Donovan Henry)
SJS – Connor Kurtz 1-yard run (kick failed)
CM – Reeves 41-yard run (Michael Keene kick)
SJS – Sean Wilson 1-run (Sean Gavin kick)
CM – Reeves 49-yard run (Keene kick)
SJS – Taquar Stewart 55-yard pass from Kurtz (Gavin kick)