||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
St. Edward kept shooting itself in the foot Saturday, then Wheaton Academy senior running back John Gemmel Jr. was there to step on the other one.
Gemmel Jr. turned a frustrating afternoon for St. Edward into one of complete aggravation by breaking off an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, then scoring the game-winning TD on a 30-yard run to become the homecoming hero in a 12-7 Suburban Christian crossover victory by Wheaton Academy.
“John is effective every time he has the ball in his hands for us,” Wheaton Academy coach T.J. Ragan said.
Gemmel Jr. — a tough-to-tackle, 5-foot-9, 175-pounder — rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries. His biggest moment looked like it might be the kick return when he broke two tackles and barreled through a forest of blockers and tacklers at one point to go 84-yards on an unconventional TD return one play after St. Edward took a 7-0 lead with 7:05 left in the third quarter on DeVontae Elam’s 19-yard TD run.
“You’ve just gotta go hard and keep plowing through people as hard as you can,” Gemmel Jr. said.
But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the kick return forced the Warriors to go for a two-point conversion from the 18, and St. Edward’s Max Tucker intercepted to protect a 7-6 lead.
It stayed that way through a series of missed St. Edward chances to pad the lead or lock up the game, and then Wheaton Academy (3-4, 3-2) strung together a 70-yard TD drive starting with 8:03 left in the game and ending with Gemmel’s 30-yard burst off left guard behind John Mark Wiersema’s lead block for the 12-7 lead with 4:59 remaining.
“It was just run a ton and everybody did their assignments,” Gemmel Jr. said. “They all sprung me. We kind of adjusted to their defense and everyone played out their assignments.”
St. Edward (2-5, 1-4), now eliminated from the playoff chase, lacked much of a passing attack and never picked up another first down on two possessions after Gemmel’s go-ahead TD.
“Our defense has been coming every week, stepping up more and more,” Ragan said. “It’s been fun to watch them play free and play hard.”
The Green Wave lost it on downs at Wheaton Academy’s 19 on a fourth-down fumbled snap by QB Mikey Castoro with 39 seconds left in the third quarter, had a fourth-and-four conversion wiped out by penalty while protecting a fourth-quarter lead, and in the first half lost it at Wheaton Academy’s 10 by fumble and 21 by interception. Justin Sargeant had the interception and Taylor Johnson recovered the fumble by Elam, who was held to 79 yards on 22 rushes by the Warriors defense.
“From the start of the game we were in the red zone and we don’t execute, dropping fumbles on fourth down again,” St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. “That’s been our Achilles Heel all year, fumbling snaps; we can’t seem to get it corrected.”
St. Edward outgained the Warriors 244 to 187 yards and had a 13-9 first-down edge
“The effort has been there,” Rolando said. “But we’re down some guys, and at the end of the day it comes down to execution from the (kicking) game, fourth down execution and avoiding penalties.”
St. Edward 0 0 7 0 -- 7
S – Devontae Elam 19 run (Joe French kick) 7:05, 3rd
W – John Gemmel Jr. 84 kick return (pass failed) 6:50, 3rd
W – Gemmel Jr. 30 run (run failed) 4:59, 4th
Team Stats S W
First downs 13 9
Comp.-att.-int. 6-10-1 2-9-0
Passing yards 53 14
Rushing att.-yards 49-191 31-173
Total yards 244 187
Fumbles-lost 4-1 3-2
Penalties 6-70 7-60
St. Edward – Elam 22-79, Mikey Castoro 12-75, Will Bothwell 12-41, Danny Favela 2-(minus)1, Joe Mullen 1-(minus)3.
Wheaton Academy – Gemmel Jr. 21-100, Nate Martinez 7-67, John Mark Wiersema 3-6.
St. Edward – Castoro 6-8-1-53,
St. Edward – Favela 5-43,