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Balanced St. Paul attack leads to big FC win over Western

Cary Ashby • Updated Sep 16, 2016 at 10:43 PM

COLLINS — St. Paul exploded for 28 points in the second quarter Friday.

The undefeated Flyers (4-0) used a balanced offensive attack for a Firelands Conference win over the home team, the Western Reserve Roughriders (0-4).

Despite the seemingly lopsided St. Paul victory, Western never gave up and fought to the end. 

“I thought coach (Mike) Stoll did a great job coaching his kids. They had a nice offensive game plan and they moved the ball on us consistently. We will have to get better at that,” Flyers coach John Livengood said.

St. Paul had three running backs score touchdowns.

Senior Colton Service led the way with 16 carries for 150 yards and three TDs.

Junior Derek Gross added two first-half scores on 11 total carries for 69 yards. Junior Thane Crabbs carried the ball four times and scored on a 4-yard TD for the final score of the game with 3:24 left on the clock.

“Our plan is always to run the ball, but I was really pleased with the play of Nick Lukasko,” Livengood said, referring to his junior quarterback.

Lukasko connected with six receivers, going 8-for-13, 212 yards and 2 TDs. 

“I thought he did a great job distributing the ball. He was on target all night. He’s getting better every night,” Livengood said.

St. Paul scored on their first drive, which went for 56 yards. Senior Owen Starcher grabbed a 38-yard strike from Lukasko and with the first of Joey Catalano’s many extra-point kicks, the Flyers led 7-0 with 10:04 in the first quarter.

Western Reserve answered with a 7-yard TD run from senior Colton Puder with 4:15 in the first period. Stephen Hood’s PAT was good and the game was tied at 7. 

Puder ended the night with four catches for 95 yards and two TDs. On the ground, he carried the ball eight times for 29 yards and another score.

Senior Josh Fries again was the work horse for the ’Riders, but he had no TDs to show for it. He rushed 22 times for 108 yards.

The second quarter belonged to St. Paul. The Flyers scored on a 2-yard run by Service, who had a 40-yard run during the short drive to make it 14-7.

Catalano had a 40-yard TD reception on the first play after Lukasko grabbed an interception from Hood at Western’s 40-yard line. That made it 21-7 about halfway through the second quarter.

Gross finished off the first-half scoring on runs of 32 and 9 yards. St. Paul went into the locker room at halftime with a 35-7 lead.

While Stoll saw his team fight and improve on defense, he said there were too many missed tackles, many of which led to St. Paul getting in the end zone or simply making big plays.

“We had them at 3rd (down) and 12 and even 4th and long and they converted,” he said. 

“There was some hitting. There was some cracking,” Stoll added. “We’re giving up a lot of points. We gotta slow that down at some point.”

Puder got Western on the board again with a 27-yard TD reception from junior QB Matt Perkins with 7:55 in the third quarter. 

Still leading 35-14, St. Paul answered. Service took a 1-yard plunge to extend the Flyers’ advantage to 42-14. The TD capped off a 48-yard drive.

The ’Riders weren’t done, with Puder’s second receiving TD of the night, a 41-yard catch. With 53 seconds left in the third quarter, Western cut St. Paul’s lead to 42-21. 

Service and Crabbs had short scoring runs in the fourth quarter to give St. Paul the 56-21 win.

The Flyers host New London (1-3) for their Sept. 24 homecoming in another FC game.

“I think coach (Brad) Pickens is doing a good job over there. They run the ball well,” Livengood said. 

Western goes to Crestview (3-1) for an FC game Friday.

Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at "Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger."

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