After a scoreless first half, St. Thomas More finally broke through with a field goal in the third quarter and two late touchdowns to hold off Sturgis 16-0 in a Black Hills Conference football game at Woodle Field Friday night.
"Defense is keeping us in every game," said St. Thomas More Head Coach Wayne Sullivan. "Our coaching staff, Craig Nowotny and all of our defense is doing a great job. As the offensive coordinator and head coach, I have to start doing a better job getting some points on the board for them."
The defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense for the Cavaliers Friday. As the clock was running out late in the game, Sturgis had to become more one-dimentional on offense and throw on every down.
Quarterback Tanner Ortlieb had some success passing to Sanden Graham and Remington Sankey earlier in the game. But late in the fourth, trailing 9-0, Ortlieb dropped back and got hit from behind by Jake Goble, who popped the ball loose in the backfield. Jack Green scooped it up and sprinted 38 yards for the touchdown.
The scoreless first half wasn't without offensive chances for STM. Green, a Division 1 prospect at kicker, missed field goals from 42, 52 and 36 yards. But it was Green from 25 yards that put the Cavaliers on the scoreboard with a 3-0 lead late in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers came out of intermission in the wildcat formation allowing Ryan Wojcik and Charlie Larson to run on direct snaps. The ball control offense was successful on its own, but it also set up the offense the spread the ball around in the fourth quarter.
"We figured they are big up front and we wanted to be able to grind them down a little bit," Sullivan said. "In the fourth quarter we hoped that would open it up for the passing game a little bit by lessening their pass rush so we can get the ball out in space."
A pass to Tyson Durham and another to Wojcik, who cut back across the field for a 35-yard gain, put the Cavaliers at the Sturgis 35-yard line, and a sideline interference call moved the ball 15 more yards to the 20. From there a steady dose of Wojcik and Larson left STM at 3rd and goal on the 5. Wojcik called his own number from the wildcat and fell into the end zone for a touchdown and a 9-0 lead with only 4:22 left to play.
The ensuing possession brought on the sack and score fumble recovery.
Jed Sullivan had a good game in the pocket for the Cavaliers.
"Three straight years with an ACL tear and he is standing back there like he should," Coach Sullivan said of his son. "Kellen Weber also runs the ball well for us as a quarterback and starts on defense. We have a lot of guys out there making plays."
In addition to a few receptions, Durham also was in the right spot at the right time for an interception in the first half and broke up two passes when the Scoopers were looking to score.
STM, 2-1, is off this week. The Scoopers, 0-2, head to Brookings for a 7 p.m., Friday kickoff.
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