The Decatur Bulldogs made St. Pius X wait for a while Friday night, but the Lions are used to that. After a slow start, the No. 7 Golden Lions rolled anyway, and their 48-0 win on the road clinched the Region 6-AAA title and a bit of school history.
Senior quarterback Jack Spear led the way with 120 passing yards and and 100 more yards on the ground while accounting for a touchdown each way. The school opened in 1958, but this is the first time that the Lions have won back-to-back region titles. SPX, in fact, has won its region in three of the past four seasons.
“We kind of knew we were going to throw some because they bring their safeties up so hard,” said Spear, who had five carries with a score in addition to completing 6-of-8 passes and throwing for a score. “This feels great, the first time in school history.”
The Lions limited the Bulldogs to 25 rushing yards on 39 carries as SPX registered its third shutout of the season.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions (8-2-, 5-1 Region 6-AAA) scored twice in the second to take a 13-0 halftime lead. SPX went about its business in unusual fashion – through the air.
Spear completed 4-of-6 passes in the first half for 55 yards and a touchdown, and halfback Nick Ruffin completed a 40-yard pass to Michael Sikorski to set up the Lions’ first score. That came when Spear connected on a 22-yarder to Brandon Mitchell.
Fullback Ryan Braswell added a 13-yard scoring run shortly before halftime.
Decatur (5-5, 2-4) dared the Lions to throw.
“They didn’t just bring their safeties down; they lined them up . . . they had 11 guys within 4 yards of the ball,” said SPX head coach Paul Standard. “We’ve thrown for little to nothing . . . they were going to make us beat them throwing the ball.”
Decatur sophomore quarterback Devontae Carter kept the Lions busy in the first half. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 83 yards, but the Bulldogs made enough mistakes to short-circuit themselves frequently.
Although bruiser Nick Bentley finished with 47 yards on eight carries for Decatur, the Bulldogs lost huge yardage on several poor shotgun snaps.
The Lions doubled their scores in less than the first three minutes in the second half.
Spear ran the option for 48 yards on the second play of the half, and passed 29 yards to Sikorski to move the ball to the Decatur 3. From there, Braswell – who finished with 61 yards on 11 carries – scored with 10:13 left in the third quarter for a 20-0 SPX lead.
Nick Ruffin intercepted a Carter pass moments later, and Spear scored on a 42-yard run on the next play for a 27-0 lead with 9:08 to go in the third quarter.
The Lions’ final score came when senior Harris Woodward recovered another poor Decatur snap in the end zone with 4:01 left in the game. That capped a 21-point final period for the Lions.
SPX went back to its baseline in the second half, rushing 22 times for 208 yards. The Lions finished with 266 rushing yards, and 426 yards of total offense.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Standard said. “No. 1 seed . . . that’s all you can ask for.”
Carter completed 10-of-18 yards for 104 yards for Decatur, and the young Bulldogs had more positive moments than the score would indicate but for a similar number of mistakes.
St. Pius X 0 13 14 21 — 48
Decatur 0 0 0 0 — 0
SPX — Brandon Mitchell 22 pass from Jack Spear (kick blocked)
SPX — Ryan Braswell 13 run (Thomas O’Leary kick)
SPX — Braswell 3 run (O’Leary kick)
SPX — Spear 42 run (O’Leary kick)
SPX — Kevin O’Toole 1 run (O’Leary kick)
SPX — Joey Connors 10 run (Michael Matthews kick)
SPX — Harris Woodward recover fumble in end zone (Matthews kick)