Another Saturday afternoon, another game where the St. John’s football team is physically overmatched by an opponent with better financial means.
The Red Storm fell to 1-3 following a 16-8 loss at the hands of the Central Connecticut Blue Devils.
However, the team came away feeling good about themselves, playing tough in a contest that they were clearly the underdogs.
“It was a loss but as a coaching staff we felt good about the kids, their effort and how they hung in there,” St. John’s Head Coach Bob Ricca said.
It was a game that has suddenly become the blueprint for the Red Storm season.
The first half is always a close fought, hard-nosed battle of field goals that leaves the Storm within one score of taking the lead at halftime.
However, once the second half begins, so begins the demolition of the St. John’s defense.
The physical size and depth of the other teams always results in a huge day for the opposition’s running back and an eventual St. John’s loss.
“We were just physically overmatched by Central Connecticut and we will have to face a similar situation every week we go out there,” Ricca said.
The Red Storm trailed 3-0 at the half following a Derek Pearson 35-yard field goal with just under eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.
St. John’s was able to construct numerous drives of over 40 yards but due to the horrendous field position they dealt with all afternoon, they could only manage to get to midfield and were forced to punt.
The second half was when Blue Devil running back Major Cole took over.
Cole finished with 178 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns in the second half, including one with 11:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Blue Devil quarterback Scott Dolch completed eight passes for 142 yards before being knocked out of the game in the third quarter.
However, a key extra point block by St. John’s kept the game a two score contest at 16-0.
The Red Storm finally got on the scoreboard with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth.
Quarterback Matt Millheiser connected with Matt May for an 11-yard score following a four-play, 40-yard drive.
Millheiser then connected on a huge two-point conversion with Eric Romeo to bring the Storm to within one score at 16-8.
However, St. John’s failed to complete a successful onside kick and Cole proved to be too much for an already worn-out Storm defense.
“Millheiser had a real nice day throwing the ball, by far his best day so far, however the lack of big plays did us in,” Ricca said.
Ricca also noted that the improved play of his offensive line at picking up the blitz and the utilization of the shotgun formation allowed for a more productive passing game.
However, due to the physical strength upfront by the Blue Devils, they were able to hold St. John’s running backs Mark Murphy and Matt McGuire to a mere 11 carries.
Millheiser had his best game of the season, completing 21 of 34 passes for 186 yards and the touchdown to May.
On defense, linebacker Mike Catanzaro led the way with 11.5 tackles, followed closely behind by Bobby Rosenberg’s 10.5 takedowns.
The Red Storm will look to add another tally to their win column on October 12 when they take on the Marist Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., following a bye week this coming weekend.