Defense propels Bishop Miege to big win
By David Svoboda PrepsKC Staff Writer
One year ago, Bishop Miege suffered through a three-game losing streak at midseason that left Coach Tim Grunhard and his players a bit shell shocked and in a foul mood.
The Stags completed the 2011 version of that same three-game stretch Friday night with a convincing 48-24 rout of rival St. Thomas Aquinas, running their record on the year to 4-1. The Saints fell for a second-straight week to go to 3-2.
For Grunhard’s Miege squad, wins over Gardner Edgerton and Aquinas, sandwiched around a loss to Blue Valley, were just what the doctor ordered.
“If you would have told me in August that we’d go 2-1 in this stretch, I’d have signed on the dotted line,” said Grunhard, whose smile reflected how truly fortunate he felt to see his team escape the period with some momentum and fairly healthy.
But on this night – at least early – it seemed as if Miege might be staring down its second-straight defeat.
Aquinas jumped out on top quickly, scoring just four plays into the contest when senior Zack Martinez bowled into the end zone from eight yards out to give the Saints the 6-0 lead. The PAT kick was blocked. Clayton Henning’s spectacular 75-yard catch and run was the big play on the drive.
Miege answered right back to take the lead at 7-6. The 10-play, 64-yard effort was capped by a nine-yard pass from junior QB Montel Cozart to senior TE Adam Novak.
Aquinas then grabbed the lead back, with Austin Scherzer snagging a 28-yard TD pass from QB Paul Heit to put the Saints up 13-6.
“They’ve got an explosive offense and it showed,” Grunhard said of the Saints.
But it only took 28 seconds for Miege to pull even. Cozart hit Tre Parmalee with a 55-yard scoring bomb to cap the four-play, 77-yard drive and make it 13-13. And the game was not yet nine minutes old.
It took nearly a full quarter of elapsed time for either team to score again, and it was Aquinas increasing its lead with a 32-yard field goal by Declan Fogarty giving the Saints the lead at 16-13.
The home-standing Saints increased the lead to 18-13 when they harassed Cozart into an intentional grounding penalty in his own end zone for a safety.
That’s where the game stood at the half…before the Miege second-half onslaught got underway.
The Stags put together a 13-play, 76-yard drive to open the second half, with Cozart hitting Novak with a three-yard, fourth-down TD strike to grab a 20-18 edge.
Aquinas scored what would be its final points of the night with just over five minutes left in the third quarter when Heit again connected with Henning, this time for 77 yards and the TD. The Saints led 24-20 after the two-point conversion attempt failed.
Little did anyone believe, at that point, that Miege would go on a 28-0 blitz over the game’s final 16-plus minutes to turn the close contest into a rout.
It was a halftime adjustment, Grunhard said, that keyed the victory.
“We put some athletes in the middle of the field (on defense) and let them make some plays,” he said.
The floodgates opened when Miege’s Tim Mahoney recovered a fumble by Aquinas’ Martinez while on the dead run and rumbled in from 33 yards out to give the Stags the lead for good at 27-24.
“Defensive scores are so demoralizing to an offense,” Grunhard said. “And they were great for us.”
Moments later, Miege was blocking an Aquinas punt, and three plays after the block, Quanzee Johnson ran it in from five yards out to put his team up by 10, 34-24.
Miege’s two fourth-quarter TDs also came courtesy of its defense. The first came after a 66-yard interception return by Parmalee, who fumbled the ball into the end zone at the tail end of the play, only to have teammate Brad Ivey bail him out by falling on the ball for the 41-24 edge.
Cole Pickert’s 39-yard interception return on the next Aquinas possession put the icing on the cake at 48-24. That’s where it would end.
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