There was a period of about four minutes in today’s St. John’s/Holy Name game where some folks may have been concerned the top-ranked Pioneers have been over-hyped this year. New QB Dan Light threw a pick on his first pass and the Naps seemed to have little trouble marching down into St. John’s territory.
It turned out it was only a blip on the radar, as Holy Name’s drive was stalled by a costly personal foul penalty and St. John’s took over from there in a big way to cruise to a 40-0 win. Light recovered from his first-pass miscue and threw a staggering five touchdown passes while the St. John’s defense added five turnovers as the Pioneers showed they’re just as dangerous as last year.
A lot of people know the story on Richard Rodgers – more on him later – but most of the eyes today were on Light. I’ve sang his praises quite a bit over the past few years and he showed he will have no problems becoming the next great St. John’s quarterback. Light completed q2 of his 16 passes for 212 yards in just about three quarters of work. Not too shabby. Light also showed he still loves to run people over, rushing for 67 yards on eight carries.
“Early on it was a little nerve-wracking,” said Light. “The early pick had my head spinning a bit, but I got into a comfort zone later on and it feels pretty good.”
However the play people are going to be talking about was in the third quarter when Light bootlegged to his right. Light broke past the line and took the corner and was greeted by Holy Name defensive back Quron Wright. Now, Wright is a dynamic player, but he’s listed in the Holy Name program as 5-foot-7. That’s a VERY generous measurement.
Wright lowered his head and went to make the hit, but the 6-foot-4 Light just hurdled OVER Wright and gained about 10 more yards. You’ll be seeing that play quite a bit on the Friday Night Frenzy – and will definitely be worth seeing as it’s one of the best most athletic plays I’ve seen covering sports.
It also summed up the day Holy Name was having. Light hooked up with Rodgers for three touchdown passes – including another highlight-film quality play by Rodgers. Light saw something in the defense and audibled the play. He called for Rodgers to run a post route and Light sent a pass to him in the middle of the field with Rodgers running into coverage. The pass seemed to be a little behind Rodgers, but he just spun around and made a one-handed grab and in one fluid motion continued his spin off his defender and raced in for a 41-yard score.
The Naps just couldn’t get anything going offensively. Shaun Burlinson and John Vassar each had six tackles while Burlinson forced two fumbles. Mike Hogan had four tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. It should be interesting to see how much this carries over into next Sunday’s game against Longmeadow – which croaked Amherst, 47-0, and will no doubt be looking for payback for last year’s St. John’s rout.
More importantly for Holy Name, coach Mike Pucko said he had seven of his 27 players (that’s on the team, folks) get injured today. He’s not sure how serious or if they’ll be ready for Thursday’s game with South, but the Naps are once again scrambling to find players to fill the holes in.
“I had to put kids out there today out of position to finish the game,” Pucko said. “But if you want to play football you’ve got to play St. John’s. Today, it hurt physically and mentally but with the injuries we’re now in trouble.”
If Pucko can find the players – and every year people are wondering just how he manages it – Holy Name should recover from this loss and get back into the playoff mix. Hopefully for the Naps those seven players who went down today are more of the bumps-and-bruise variety than the “go see the doctor” variety. It’s way too early for Puck to be worrying about putting freshmen tight ends at linebacker and all that kind of stuff.
Who knows, both teams may meet again in the playoffs. The question is, after a 40-0 loss, do the Naps want to?