SLEEPY EYE - In a game where the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's offense put up 35 points, it was the defense that dominated from the very first snap.
The Knights held visiting Red Rock Central to 53 total yards of offense, giving their balanced offensive attack plenty of opportunities and leading to a 35-0 victory in a Southern Minnesota Conference game.
Early on it was a struggle for both offenses, but it was St. Mary's that broke through with a touchdown drive with just seven seconds remaining in the quarter.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Mike Hirsch is pursued by Taylor Bunting (2) and Derek Christians (10) of Red Rock Central after making a catch in the second quarter Friday at SESM.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
It was Jaden Wait scoring on a seven-yard run to put the Knights up 6-0, and opening the floodgates for the Knights' offense.
"We had to figure what they were doing on defense and the guys got a little motivated," said coach Brent Kucera.
"We had really done a good job of executing our gameplan in the first quarter," said Falcons coach Isaac Jenniges. "We gave them one and that kind of turned the tide going forward."
After a three-and-out for the Falcons, the Knights turned to junior quarterback Brandon Helget.
Helget went 4-for-4 on the drive, which ended in a 3-yard touchdown pass to John Brandl.
Red Rock Central failed to answer again, and the Knights took advantage by scoring a few minutes later.
This time it was Helget running the ball in, scoring from nine yards out. Wait set up the touchdown with a 37-yard run earlier in the drive.
At halftime, St. Mary's held a 19-0 lead.
The first two offensive possessions for St. Mary's resulted in touchdowns as well.
After Helget converted a fourth down play with a 30-yard scamper, David Suprenant carried the next play 30 more yards for a touchdown.
Helget capped off his night just a few minutes later, hitting Payton Adams on a double-move for a 25 yard score.
St. Mary's defense held the Falcons to just 53 yards and five first downs, and had nine tackles for loss, including a bunch of sacks.
"I'm really confident in the defense, coach (Matt) Andres and those guys do a great job," Kucera said. "It is a pleasure to have those guys on defense."
Helget finished 7-for-11 for 99 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Wait carried 10 times for 92 yards, and Suprenant had 47 yards rushing behind an offensive line that was physical all night.
"They're awesome," Helget said of his offensive line. "They get off the ball and they overpower everybody."
St. Mary's will now enter a difficult part of the schedule, and Kucera knows they will have to play better.
"We have to get rid of our extra mistakes and just clean some things up," Kucera said.
The young Falcons team drops to 0-3 against three quality opponents and will play host to Minnesota Valley Lutheran next Friday.
"I hope they're learning something," Jenniges said. "These are three of the best teams in conference that we've played and every week is a learning experience."
The Knights improve to 3-0 and will head to Springfield for a game that Helget and company know won't be easy.
"We got to come out hard, keep going hard, never stop and never give up."