The first minute of the season couldn’t have gone much better for St. Joe’s who found their way onto the scoreboard just 50 seconds into a contest against one of the top teams in Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately for the Marauders, the remaining 47 minutes belonged to powerful Erie McDowell.
The Trojans took advantage of four SJCI turnovers and used a balanced offensive attack to roll to a 42-20 win on Saturday afternoon.
“We made way too many mistakes, especially against a team like that,” St. Joe’s coach Derek Landri said. “We saw it on film, that’s a big-time team. They’ve got a lot of talented players.”
After St. Joe’s jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, McDowell took over from there and had the game in control by halftime. In the first half, the Trojans outgained the Marauders 284-124 and held a 35-7 lead.
“They came out and got the momentum but we were able to get it back,” said fifth-year McDowell coach Bo Orlando, who has won three District 10 titles with the program. “We were able to run and throw the ball. We had some balance.”
Junior Chris Johnno threw for three touchdowns and senior Danny Blue ran for two more to lead the Trojans (3-0).
It was an up-and-down debut for St. Joe’s junior Callum Wither, who transferred in from a school in Mississauga, Ont. He threw three touchdowns – all to Sam Kline – but also four interceptions, including two in the end zone.
The Marauders will look to rebound next Saturday against Class AA contender Bennett in a 1 p.m. game. St.Joe’s beat the Tigers last season.
“I thought he did great,” Landri said. “Yeah, some bad things happened, some things you wish would have looked better. But he came out, threw the ball well, the line blocked well. I just didn’t do enough to get them prepared.”
“They have two big-time backs over there,” Landri said on the upcoming tilt with the Bennett Tigers. “We know them well from last year; they’re going to be ready to roll and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
With just three large school programs in Northwest Pennsylvania, McDowell is forced into New York and Ohio for competition. Next up for the Trojans is Canisius, which will head to Erie for a 7 p.m. game on Friday.
“We went and watched Canisius against Euclid and they’re a very good football team,” Orlando said. “They have some athletes. They have a back that can go, they have receivers, size up front. It’s going to be a test for us but it’ll be good to be back home.”
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