St. Mary’s rolls to a big victory

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s running back Patrick Hoffmann carries the ball during the first half of the Knights’ game against Hill City/Northland Friday in Sleepy Eye.

SLEEPY EYE — To say that Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s had a nice night would be quite the understatement.

With 488 total yards and 76 points scored, the Knights (3-1) rolled to a dominant 76-14 win over Hill City/Northland (2-2) in 9-man, nondistrict football action on Friday night.

Nick Labat, Knights junior quarterback, led the way with two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He was able to take an early exit in the third quarter after helping put his team up 48-14.

The defense also made things easier for Labat, who said that the team spent a lot of time working on tackling over the week.

“We made sure we brought them down,” Labat said. “We worked on a lot of tackling this week to make sure that we stopped them and we got it done.”

The Knights took control early on in the first quarter after forcing the Hornets to punt after three plays went for just 4 yards. The snap to the punter was fumbled, though, giving the Knights the ball in HC/N territory.

After four plays, all runs by Kyle Tauer, the Knights got on the board with a 6-yard touchdown run by Tauer. The 2-point conversion was good after to put St. Mary’s up 8-0 with 9:06 still to play in the first quarter.

HC/N looked good on its next possession, taking a 70-yard drive to the end zone and adding a 2-point conversion to tie it up at 8-8 with 3:51 left in the first.

The Knights then put 20 unanswered points on the board to lead 28-8 after a Riley Strate touchdown run of 5 yards, a Labat to Carter Currans touchdown pass of 22 yards and 2-point conversion and a 7-yard Patrick Hoffman touchdown run. The Hornets then scored their final points of the game on a 4th-and-goal touchdown pass of 2 yards to Tucker Holm and a 2-point conversion with 3:44 before the half.

Labat gave the Knights another 12 points on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Craft before scoring on an 8-yard keeper, scoring both touchdowns with less than two minutes to go in the half.

Before the final touchdown of the second quarter, Labat also completed a deep ball to John Luu Mathiowetz for 41 yards down the sideline, which helped Labat set up his touchdown run to give St. Mary’s a 42-14 lead at the half.

“They’re really good to work with, we worked a lot this week,” Labat said of his receivers. “Deep routes and completing them — we finally got it this week.”

Labat came out in the second half with an extra wave of confidence, completing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lang to give the Knights a 48-14 lead with 9:53 left in the third.

Labat was subbed out for freshman quarterback Carson Domeier on the next St. Mary’s drive.

The Knights continued to crank things up the rest of the way, with a 16-yard touchdown run by Patrick Hoffmann, a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle by Trent Steffensmeier and a Domeier touchdown keeper of 15 yards. With the Knights up 70-14, the Hornets got the ball across midfield and were looking to score when Steffensmeier picked off a pass and took it 67 yards for the final score of the game.

Spencer Hoffman also had an interception for the Knights in the second quarter.

Labat said that the big win gives he and his squad a nice boost of confidence heading into next week’s Friday meeting with the Raiders at Nicollet.

“It’s big for us,” Labat said. “We need to keep working hard. We have a big game next week against Nicollet, so we need to just keep playing hard as the season goes.”

No official stats were provided by St. Mary’s.