St. Laurence back eludes St. Francis
St. Laurence and St. Francis kept up a torrid pace offensively through the first half of Friday night's football game in Wheaton.
Only St. Laurence kept up that pace in the second half.
After scoring 4 first-half touchdowns, the Spartans mustered only one in the second half and lost 49-35 in a Chicago Catholic League crossover game.
"They're very good on offense," Spartans coach Mike Fitzgerald said of the Vikings, "and they're going to do some damage down the road."
Both teams' running backs had big games.
St. Laurence junior Fayezon Smart ran for 252 yards and 5 touchdowns on 30 carries, frustrating the St. Francis defense with his elusiveness.
"They're just a good football team," Fitzgerald said. "They're well-coached. They have an identity. I don't think it was just him. There's other guys that you have to respect on that field, which opens up lanes for him. They do a great job on the opposite side of the ball and they executed well, but yeah, that running back was tough to bring down and made some people miss, and ultimately, we didn't do a good job of containing him."
Meanwhile, the Spartans (4-2) featured junior tailback Nolan Pechan to great effect. Pechan ran for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own on 34 carries while also playing safety on defense.
"He did a heck of a job," Fitzgerald said. "He ran hard, and he was tough to bring down himself. Maybe not as shifty as their guy, but he was running between tackles really good."
The Spartans led St. Laurence (4-2) by a touchdown at halftime, but Smart tied the game at 28-28 on the first series of the third quarter.
After Jimmy Burnette's second interception of the game, Smart gave the Vikings the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Pechan tied the game with a 2-yard scoring run of his own on the next series, but the Spartans couldn't stop Smart and Co. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Smart scored again from a yard out to make the score 42-35.
"We just did not execute," Fitzgerald said. "We turned the ball over on the one ... . They made some adjustments, obviously, at half that were better than ours. They did a good job executing in the second half."
The schedule gets even more difficult next week for the Spartans, who travel to undefeated Montini on Friday night.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz