2007-08-30 / Sports

Team Mettle Shines for Saints in 28-21 Season Opener Win Over Charlevoix

By David Latva

Derek Marshall rambles 37 yards for the Saints' first touchdown after recovering a Rayders fumble. Derek Marshall rambles 37 yards for the Saints' first touchdown after recovering a Rayders fumble. Team mettle was the biggest factor that made a difference, Head Coach Marty Spencer believes, in his St. Ignace Saints football team's 28-21 non-conference win over the Charlevoix Rayders in the season opener at Saints Field Friday, August 24.

"This team came together during the first three days at the Superior Dome," said Coach Spencer. "In the win, the team's character was evident. They never quit."

It was the Saints' 35th meeting against the Rayders. The Saints lead the series over the Rayders 25-10 overall, a series which started in 1968. Friday night's game was Parents Night for the team.

The Black and Gold defense scored first Friday night on a 37- yard fumble recovery return for a touchdown by senior captain Derek Marshall. Andy Tamlyn added the extra point for a 7-0 lead at the 4:24 mark of the first quarter.

The Saints defense stalled two potential Rayders scoring drives during the remainder of the first half, as juniors Andy Tamlyn and Rob Robinson recovered fumbles to send the game into halftime with St. Ignace clinging to a 7-0 lead.

Kyle Smock (27) bursts through the line while leading the Saints ground attack with 117 yards. Kyle Smock (27) bursts through the line while leading the Saints ground attack with 117 yards. Charlevoix answered with two touchdowns early in the third quarter, as quarterback Cliff Jones scored on a 12-yard run, and Kyle Jones, who led the Rayders offense with 178 yards on 24 carries, added the two-point conversion for a 8-7 lead.

On the ensuing kick-off, the Saints lost possession of the ball on a fumble. Seven plays later, Cliff Jones completed a 30-yard scoring pass to Jon Putman and, following extra-point kick, increased Charlevoix's lead to 15- 7 at the 6:25 mark.

Four consecutive running plays by Kyle Smock for 25 yards brought the Saints offense to the Rayders 36-yard line, and, after Shawn Cowell rambled in for the touchdown and Anthony Lester completed the two-point conversion pass to James Peterson to notch the score at 15-15 with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter, the Saints' team mettle was restored.

The Rayders reclaimed the lead after a one-yard quarterback sneak by Jones during the first minute of the final period, however, the Saints answered when Kyle Smock, who led the Saints ground attack with 117 yards on 14 carries, dashed in from 49 yards out to score a touchdown at 10:41. With Tamlyn's extra-point kick, the Saints took a 22-21 lead.

"Once Bubba (Smock) gets in the open and has that little running room, there aren't many players that will catch him," said Coach Spencer.

Nick Montie and Smock combined on a fumble recovery on the Rayders next possession. Four plays later, Gerrit Mortensen and Smock hooked up on a 52-yard scoring pass for a 28-21 advantage with 6:27 left on the clock.

The Saints defense scored the first touchdown of the season and came through in the final defensive play of the game as Lester knocked down a fourth-and-13 situation to clinch the victory.

Charleovix ran 72 offensive plays for 318 yards to the Saints' 52 plays of 289 yards.

Saints Defense: Derek Marshall and Nick Montie, 18 tackles and one fumble recovery; Kyle Smock, 11 tackles and one fumble recovery; Andy Tamlyn (fumble recovery) and James Peterson, 10 tackles; James Halberg and Shawn Cowell, eight tackles; Alec Fitzgerald (fumble recovery) and Steffan Saffian, seven tackles; Rob Robinson (fumble recovery), Gerrit Mortensen, and Anthony Lester, two tackles; and Jesse Becker, Michael Wilk and Nate Thompson, one tackle.

Saints Offense: Kyle Smock, 117 yards on 14 carries, three receptions for 69 yards; Shawn Cowell, 78 yards on 10 carries; Jesse Becker, eight yards on three carries; Gerrit Mortensen, 5-of-9 passes for 83 yards; Anthony Lester, 1-of-1 passes for three yards; James Peterson, two receptions for 15 yards; Alec Fitzgerald, one reception for two yards.

Saints/ Rayders Rivalry Runs

Each team enjoyed a string of wins during the Saints-Rayders annual match-ups since 1968.

The Saints took the first six games of the series, winning each year from 1968 to 1973. The Rayders then made a winning streak of their own, from 1974 to 1978. The Saints won five during the 1982 to 1986 span.

The teams did not play from 1990 to 1994.

The match-up was rekindled in 1995, and the Saints went on to win the next 10 games until 2004.

St. Ignace will travel to East Jordan to battle the Red Devils Thursday, August 30, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

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