NEW PARIS — St. Joseph’s Catholic gave itself plenty of opportunities in Friday’s game at Chestnut Ridge.
But the Lions used their defense, combined with enough mistakes from the Wolves, to score a 24-2 victory. The Lions recovered three fumbles, intercepted the Wolves three times, earned a few sacks, and held their ground on their side of the field several times.
The Wolves were limited to just 49 yards rushing and 97 passing as Chestnut Ridge reached the four-win plateau which would allow them to enter the District 5-AA postseason.
“We’ve taken some steps in the right direction, especially with our fundamentals on defense,” Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said. “Tonight, I thought our tackling against a pretty good kid (St. Joseph’s Kahsim Buey) was good. Our pass coverage has improved. The defensive effort was outstanding and I’ve seen steady progress.”
Down 21-2 at halftime, the Wolves attempted an onside kick and recovered it to begin the second half. St. Joseph’s reached just inside the Chestnut Ridge 10-yard line, but wound up with nothing after a series of lost yardage plays and penalties, and ended up in the rare fourth down and goal to go from their own 49.
But the Lions muffed the punt and St. Joseph’s quickly had the ball back in good position again. However, on third down and short, a high snap led to Chestnut Ridge recovering the ball at its 32.
The Wolves got it back again near midfield and were on the move after Phillip Fenstermacker’s 18-yard pass to Evan Young. But like before, the District 6 team was forced into a long fourth down — just 14 yards to go this time — and punted.
Chestnut Ridge took over, with a key play being Jake Bowser’s 65-yard pass to Noah Osman that put the Lions in the red zone. Four plays later after not gaining much else, Sean Van Meter’s 35-yard field goal made it 24-2, the only scoring of the second half.
“I’ve never had a kid, when you get down to the 25 or 30-yard line, that you think about bringing in,” Shoemaker added of Van Meter, who has three field goals of 30 yards or more on the season. “It’s a different thought in terms of calling plays — you’re always thinking its four-down territory.”
Chestnut Ridge’s offense was far from crisp, but it managed to build a sizable lead prior to the half. Bowser, filling in for the injured Beau Bosch, tallied the first touchdown with 5:17 left in the opening quarter. The Lions went 57 yards in seven plays, culminating in a three-yard keeper by Bowser, who had to recover his own fumbled snap before reaching the end zone.
Ridge’s Matt Wiley scored from 15 yards out on the second snap of the second period, and a Van Meter point-after made the score 14-0. The Wolves had to punt after going three and out, but Mike Jabco’s 54-yard punt pinned the Lions back at their 3. They gained nothing on the first two plays, and then Bowser was sacked in the end zone to give St. Joseph’s two points and the ball following a free kick.
However, Chestnut Ridge’s Braden Hengst came up with an interception that turned it back over, and from their 48, the Lions used 10 plays and chewed up much of the remaining time in the half to go up 21-2. Tyler Wiley had the touchdown run, from four yards out.
“That was critical getting that score and creating some separation on the scoreboard,” Shoemaker said.
St. Joseph’s was beset with 10 penalties, many in key spots, and the turnovers. Buey led the running game with 69 yards, while Fenstermacker threw for 97.
“We had a bad first half,” Wolves’ coach Dave Carson said. “If we would have executed better on offense, it would have been a much different game. We’ve been slow starters this year.
“We knew Chestnut Ridge was tough. Penalties killed us tonight. It all wraps up under that heading ‘execution.’ It’s a very young team we have, but it’s Week 6, so there’s no rookies now. We have to eliminate the mistakes.”