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Spartans Stun Spirit in The Cage

Box Score

Oct. 14, 2017

Spartans Stun Spirit in The Cage

Jakob Page on a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown. [Photo: Christina Birch]

On Friday, in front of a huge crowd in The Cage, the Lorne Park Spartans stunned the previously undefeated St. Marcellinus Spirit 17-13 in an action-packed affair that came down to the final play.  The Spirit have never won in The Cage, though several games have come right down to the wire, which was exactly what happened in this game.

The Spartans took the opening kickoff out to their own 40-yard line.  RB Frank Mensah exploded up the middle for 11, then QB Christian Smodis found WR Will Manko for 10 yards, moving the ball into Spirit territory.  After another solid run from Mensah, RB Jakob Page found space up the middle for an 18-yard gain.  Two plays later, Smodis hit WR Ryan Di Florio for a 25-yard touchdown to give Lorne Park a 7-0 lead.

The score remained that way until late in the second quarter when the St. Marcellinus offense put together a long touchdown drive that started on their own 15-yard line. QB Ben Merritt found Scott Murray over the middle for 18 yards, then Wildcat QB Eric Colonna hit Murray up the sideline for another 18.  Murray would catch a third consecutive pass, this time from Merritt, taking the ball down to the Lorne Park 19-yard line.  From there RB Jayden Kerr weaved his way down to the 1-yard line, before Murray punched it in on a direct snap to tie the game 7-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lorne Park's Jakob Page scooped up the ball on a bounce at the 10-yard line, and took off up the sideline for a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown to restore the seven-point lead for the Spartans.

Lorne Park opened the second half with an onside kick that the Spirit recovered.  Working with a short field, RB David Spence slashed his way inside the Lorne Park 20-yard line, but the drive eventually stalled, and the Spirit were forced to settle for a 24-yard Christopher Micelli field goal to bring them within four.

The Spirit would claw closer still early in the fourth quarter.  On the strength of three pass completions from Merritt to Kerr, St. Marcellinus moved the ball deep into Spartanville before settling for another Micelli field goal, this time from 19 yards out.

The Spartans answered the bell, stringing together a time-consuming drive of their own.  Smodis spread the ball around, connecting with Marshall Rafaelic, Will Manko, Jakob Page, Ryan Di Florio and Riley Farquharson.  The long drive would ultimately result in a 21-yard Luke Tejerina field goal to put Lorne Park up 17-13.

Needing a touchdown, St. Marcellinus had time for one last drive.  Merritt and Kerr hooked up two more times for short gains, and Spence contributed his longest run of the afternoon, but they couldn't convert on third and long from the Lorne Park 29-yard line, and the Spartans were able to take a knee for the win.

Christian Smodis was 12 of 22 for 206 yards and a touchdown.  Page and Mensah each had ten carries for a combined 79 yards, and Will Manko led all receivers with four receptions for 104 yards.  Luke Tejerina, Noah Tauskela, and Cal Duncan each contributed a sack in the win.

For the Spirit, Merritt finished the day 9 of 15 for 99 yards, while David Spence added 83 yards on the ground on 16 carries.  Scott Murray, who had a quiet second half led all Spirit receivers with four grabs for 65 yards and a rushing touchdown.

The Spartans now head into their bye week with a 2-1-1 record, while the Spirit, who drop to 2-1 head to David Suzuki to take on the Grizzlies.