By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The backup quarterback came in and stole the show. On consecutive plays, the star fullback returned an interception for a touchdown and forced a fumble with a big hit.
The head coach, whose career began in the 1970s, called a play he’s tried only one other time.
In other words, there was a lot going on in Catholic’s 41-20 home win over Marshfield on Friday night.
The Irish ran for over 350 yards and improved to 3-1 overall. Sophomore quarterback Will Squibb, replacing an injured Tyson Riley, ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns and added a late 25-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Brown that sealed the outcome.
“Will Squibb is the man of the hour,” said Catholic fullback Nick Crites. “Kudos to Will for being mentally and physically prepared for being in there.”
After Catholic led 20-7 at halftime, the teams traded touchdowns on the first five possessions of the second half. Trailing 41-20, Marshfield turned the ball over on downs with about five minutes left and Catholic would run out the clock.
Crites helped the Irish take control early by forcing turnovers on back-to-back defensive plays. First: a 20-yard interception return that put the Irish ahead 14-7.
“We watched film on the RPO (run-pass option) and they kind of a showed a little bit of a stunt, then I backed up to take away the slant and I put my right hand up and somehow came down with it. I’m left-handed, so…,” Crites said. “I dunno. It was something else.”
On Catholic’s next defensive play, Crites hit Marshfield quarterback Brock Utecht and forced a fumble, which the Irish recovered and converted into a field goal.
The craziness was just getting started.
Squibb replaced an injured Riley early in the second quarter. Riley suffered an apparent ankle injury and didn’t return to the game.
Squibb found his footing in the second half. On Catholic’s first three possessions, he led the Irish on touchdown drives: 80 yards in nine plays (twice) and 60 yards in five plays.
“Very proud of the kids and the way they battled,” said Irish coach Steve Hancock. “Things didn’t look good there for a while, but they found a way.”
Late in the first half, the Irish used the rule book to their advantage for three extra points.
With Marshfield punting deep in its own territory, Catholic called for a fair catch at the Blue Jays’ 42. A personal foul on Marshfield during the fair catch moved the ball up 15 yards to the 27.
Hancock opted for Logan Brock to take a free kick – which can be done after calling for a fair catch on punts – from the 27-yard line.
“On Thursdays, we always practiced that play,” Hancock said. “We haven’t done it this year, yet. I wish I had because (the players) didn’t know what the heck was going on.
“I’ve done it twice in my career. Both of them were good, both of them were right before half.”
Brock made a 47-yard field goal in Catholic’s season opener. Friday’s free kick opportunity allowed Brock to place the ball on a tee with no worries about a block, as Marshfield had to set up in a return-like formation.
“It was very unexpected,” Brock said. “Coach Hancock called for the free kick and I knew what he was talking about, but I’ve never practiced that. I expected us to just kick a regular field goal. He called it and just told me to put it through the uprights. I feel like that’s what I do best.
“Our motivational speaker, Ted, he always holds my kicking tee. He threw the tee at me and said, ‘free kick,’” Brock said. “I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Marshfield (2-2 overall) hung close throughout the second half. Despite three first-half turnovers, the Blue Jays got within two possessions twice in the final two quarters.
A 10-yard touchdown pass from Brock Utecht to Austin Porter cut Catholic’s lead to 34-20 with 10:41 remaining.
“I don’t think the score was indicative of what the game was like for the most part,” said Marshfield coach Cody Bull. “I felt like we were in that game up until their last possession.”
The Irish answered with the 25-yard touchdown pass to Brown to go up 41-20.
Juniors Zach Cappel and Brennan Espy tallied over 100 combined yards on the ground for Marshfield. The Blue Jays were coming off a 14-12 home loss to Mt. Vernon last week.
“Our kids are heading in the right direction and they’re fighting their butts off,” Bull said. “It’s Year Two of our program and we definitely feel like we’re headed the right way. I want it so bad for them, to see it take off. I think they’re seeing (positive) things. We just have to execute at the right time.”
Marshfield (2-2 overall) hosts Hollister next week. Catholic plays at Reeds Spring.