St. Michael the Archangel used a swinging gate two-point conversion to take the lead and forced two second-half turnovers to take control during its 18-7 victory over Jewel Sumner on Friday night at Olympia Stadium.
St. Michael produced 10 points off those turnovers and improves to 5-0 heading into next Friday’s District 6-4A showdown against Lutcher. It was the fourth time the Warriors held a foe to 10 or fewer points.
“Our defense played well,” St. Michael coach Paul Varnado said. “It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we’re excited to be 5-0.”
Jewel Sumner (3-2) drove 65 yards in four plays for its first score. Senior quarterback Dakota Stokes passed 68 yards to Dion Hart down the right sideline. Austin Ballard’s PAT put the Cowboys up 7-0 with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter.
St. Michael put together a 55-yard, eight-play drive in the second quarter. C.J. McGarner scored on a 4-yard run with 6:05 remaining. When Jewel Sumner failed to line up properly on St. Michael’s swinging gate formation, the ball was quickly snapped to the far left to Jacob Lacour who easily scored for an 8-7 lead.
“We practice that play all the time,” Varnado said. “They didn’t adjust, so it was automatic decision and that really gave us momentum.”
In the third quarter, St. Michael senior punter Christopher Reid kicked a 38-yard punt that was downed at the Jewel Sumner 3 yard line. On the next play, Jewel Sumner’s Archie Miller fumbled, and St. Michael’s Jordan Dudley scooped up the ball and scored on a 1-yard return. Joel Derobertis converted the PAT for a 15-7 lead with 7:07 remaining.
Reid’s next punt rolled and was touched by a Jewel Sumner player in a crowd, and St. Michael’s Jude Housewright recovered at the Jewel Sumner 25-yard line. Seven plays later, St. Michael senior A.J. Fletcher kicked a 24-yard field goal that was partially blocked but still good. The Warriors led 18-7 with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
St. Michael put together a drive to end the game that lasted 6:16.
“That six-minute drive was nice,” Varnado said. “We were finally able to move their defensive line late and run the ball more effectively.”
Reid also had a first-half interception as the Warriors were plus-two in turnover margin and are approaching plus-10 on the season. Stevie Pittman had a first-half interception for the Cowboys.
“Turnovers and penalties killed us,” Jewel Sumner coach Zephaniah Powell said. “My punt returner shouldn’t have been anywhere near that ball. St. Michael is a good team and fought us the whole ballgame. We couldn’t sustain drives.”
St. Michael quarterback Jeffrey Vaccaro rushed for 42 yards on 14 carries and completed 9 of 16 passes for 70 yards. Matthew Butler added 38 yards rushing on 17 carries and Logan Knox 31 yards on eight tries.
Hart led the Cowboys in rushing (8-57) and receiving (2-88). Stokes completed 9 of 16 passes for 142 yards.