FORESTVILLE — In St. John’s College High School football’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) opener at Bishop McNamara, they demonstrated just how hungry they were for a win.
Liu Aumavae’s riveting 99-yard kickoff return on the game’s first possession would be a sign of how the rest of the afternoon would transpire.
In an offensive frenzy on the Mustangs’ Homecoming day, St. John’s quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava threw 9 for 13 for 123 yards and a touchdown and running back Colby McDonald added two touchdowns on six carries for 127 rushing yards to propel the Cadets to a 45-7 blowout victory on Oct. 12. The huge win breaks a four-game losing streak for St. John’s, a top-five nationally ranked program, at the start of the season.
“I think we were hungry for a win,” St. John’s head Coach Joe Casamento said. “We’ve been traveling around the country hanging on by a thread and then getting beat. It’s just – we’re hungry. We’re back to the WCAC and we want to win.”
When Bishop McNamara took over at its own 22-yard line after Aumavae’s touchdown run, starting quarterback Kenneth Prince Jr. threw an interception to Isaiah Jordan, who returned the ball all the way to the 11-yard line to set another scoring play for the Cadets (3-4).
On the ensuing drive, McDonald rushed 10 yards, which was followed by a 1-yard touchdown run by Antwain Littleton with 10:08 left in the first.
After the interception, Prince was taken out for the remainder of the game and was relieved by junior Jordan Pierce
Pierce, running back TyVon Edmonds Jr. and wide receiver Zion Suggs worked McNamara down to the Cadets’ 12-yard line. It was the closest they would come to scoring an offensive touchdown all day as they turn the ball over on downs to give St. John’s the ball back.
To conclude the first quarter of action, McDonald took the handoff from Maiava in the backfield, saw an opening and scrambled 97 yards for another Cadets touchdown, giving them a 21-0 lead. Toward the top of the second quarter, the Mustangs scored their lone touchdown, coming off a Kenneth Womack 69-yard interception return with 9:20 left in the quarter, bringing cheerfulness and excitement to the home crowd.
However, St. John’s responded with a 32-yard field goal shortly after the five-minute mark and another touchdown when Maiava lobbed an 8-yard to Rakim Jarrett with 1:42 remaining as the Cadets headed to the locker room with a cozy 31-7 lead.
After Maiava connected with Bryce Butler on a 27-yard touchdown pass about five minutes into the third quarter to give St. John’s a 38-7 lead, the senior quarterback was relieved by sophomore Wyatt Hagan. The Cadets put the game out of reach as its defense continued forcing multiple three-and-outs drives for McNamara.
“I was very pleased,” Casamento said regarding his team’s defense. “I thought everybody stepped up, played hard. I think my coaches did a good job of preparing our kids to stop what (McNamara) does; they got a lot of talent over there. It was nice for us to get some stops.”
McDonald scored again on a 1-yard rush with 2:25 left in the fourth to conclude St. John’s offensive onslaught.
“It’s a real big win,” Maiava said. “McNamara is a great team, and this is a big confidence boost for us going into the WCAC season. The past losses, we just flushed that. We’re moving on now.”
The Mustangs, now 5-2 with the loss, were led by Edmonds with 79 rushing yards on 10 carries. Also, Womack registered 23 rushing yards in addition to his 69-yard interception return.
“We played hard every down for the most part. They had good plays, we had good plays too, but they just executed…we’re back it in two weeks, we’re good,” Womack said. “We gotta be more physical. We gotta know what we’re doing, execute, do what we can and just take advantage of turnovers.”
Jarrett and Butler combined for six receptions, 66 yards and two touchdowns to help St. John’s notch its first win since Aug. 31.
Coach Keita Malloy said he approached the game with clear expectations of winning, but was not too upset with his guys after the home loss. The biggest takeaway from the loss for the Mustangs is “how good we can be,” Malloy said.
“I told the team after the game I’m not disappointed. You know, you can’t start off giving up a kickoff return, can’t throw a pick in your own red zone,” Malloy said. “At the beginning of the year that’s a top-five team in the country. And if you watch and compare any film or anybody they’ve [SJC] played, we battled them as much as anybody else did.”
Malloy said his team has to play better offensively and clean up additional mistakes in preparation for Gonzaga on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. St. John’s returns to action at Good Counsel on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.