The St. John’s football team was on a mission this past weekend. They were tired of hearing about the embarrassment of Duquesne.
They were tired of having their pride challenged each and every week.
They were tired of losing.
So they went out and did something about it.
The Red Storm defeated the Peacocks of St. Peter’s, 34-24, in front of an enthusiastic homecoming crowd at DaSilva Field. The victory over the No. 4 ranked I-AA Non-Scholarship Peacocks, was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Metro Atlantic Atheltic Conference.
“Being able to get ourselves off the floor and play the No. 4 team in the country the way we did is indicative of the character of our team,” St. John’s Head Coach Bob Ricca said.
St. John’s defeated St. Peter’s with a vaunted passing attack and a dominant defense in the second half.
“It was an all out 100 percent effort by our entire team today,” senior safety Jason Marrone said.
The Red Storm got on the scoreboard first with an impressive drive to open the game that culminated with a 29-yard run by Matt McGuire.
McGuire finished the day with 110 yards on 23 carries and two scores.
However, the Peacocks quickly answered scoring on their first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard run by running back Derek Clayton.
After St. John’s freshman Matt Higgins fumbled a punt inside his own 15-yard line to set up a quick St. Peter’s score, the Storm efficiently marched down the field on the ensuing drive to tie the game on a three yard-smash by McGuire.
The score was set up by a huge 72-yard pass from Matt Millheiser to Matt May to put the ball inside the St. Peter’s five-yard line. Millheiser was on target all game finishing with 245 yards passing on the day while throwing for two touchdowns.
“Millheiser played an incredible game today,” Ricca said. “With the combination of his arm, his legs, and the play of Matt [May] and Alicio [Metellus] and the protection we received from our line, our offense was explosive.”
“I feel I just played real smart today,” Millheiser said. “When I play smart, I am able to put the ball in the hands of my receivers and that makes our offense go.”
St. John’s had the lead at halftime, 23-21, following a touchdown pass to Metellus with under a minute to go in the half.
But as has been the case in nearly every game this season, the Storm is able to keep the game competitive in the first half only to be blown out in the second half. However, this time that was not the case as the St. John’s defense completely dominated the Peacocks in the second half.
“The big plays in the first half hurt us with them scoring three quick touchdowns, but we kept digging and held them to three points in the second half,” linebacker Bobby Rosenberg said.
The key play of the game came with about five minutes remaining, with St. John’s ahead, 31-24, when SJU’s Joe Pritchard made a stop on fourth-and-one to seal the victory.
“It was a big play,” Pritchard said. “We are always taught to crawl to the middle and I just got lucky and made the stop.”
St. John’s will look to build on this victory as they make a push to finish the season with a .500 record, going to Siena on Saturday.
“This is a tremendous confidence builder for our team,” Ricca said. “But we need to keep working and build on this victory.”