St. Mary’s opens 9-man play with 44-14 win vs. Lyle/Pacelli

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s quarterback Nick Labat (2) tries to get past Jed Nelson of Lyle/Pacelli during a run in the first quarter Thursday in Sleepy Eye. For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com

SLEEPY EYE — Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s began its season on Thursday with a dominant 44-14 victory against Lyle/Austin Pacelli, led by Andrick Sanchez and Nick Labat, who both ran for more than 100 yards each.

Sanchez finished the game with 124 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, while Labat had 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Wait also ran for a touchdown, while Wyatt Craft caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Labat.

The Knights (1-0) finished with 395 total yards on the ground, while allowing 150 total rushing yards to the Athletics (0-1).

St. Mary’s coach Brent Kucera was proud of how his team reacted to the switch to 9-man this year and felt that they played hard, especially in the first half.

The Knights stormed the field and took a 28-0 lead by the half, led by a 20-yard scamper to the right by Labat for 6 and a 12-yard touchdown run by Sanchez.

The Athletics got the ball across midfield with less than a minute to play before the half. But after a false start and a sack by Max Heiderscheidt made it third-and-29, the Athletics couldn’t make it count.

Labat’s touchdown pass to Craft in the third quarter gave the Knights a 36-0 lead after a 2-point conversion put even more strain on the Athletics to avoid being shut out.

On second-and-3, Patrick Murphy put 6 on the board for the Athletics with a 13-yard touchdown run. Murphy punched in a 2-point conversion after to make the score 36-8 in the third quarter.

Murphy then had another touchdown run, this time in the fourth quarter for 24 yards to make the score 36-14. Sanchez then had a 25-yard run after the Knights recovered an onside kick, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty backed them up 15 yards after the run.

The Knights had another 5-yard penalty after that, but they still managed to convert on fourth-and-5 after a 9-yard run by Labat. After driving down the field, Sanchez ran for a 3-yard touchdown. A pass to Wait for a 2-point conversion gave St. Mary’s the 44-14 lead.

The Knights had many things go their way in the game, but they also had 12 penalties and Kucera wants to see that reduced the next time his guys take the field.

“We had way too many penalties — simple, stupid penalties,” Kucera said. “A couple of holding calls I can deal with — that’s going to happen — but some of the simple mistakes. An unsportsmanlike is never acceptable. We had a couple miscues on blocking assignments — we’ve got a lot to fix on both sides of the ball.”