The Flyers’ seniors closed out their final home game of their careers and the season at Whitney Field with a dominating 48-14 Firelands Conference win over Mapleton. St. Paul now stands at 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the conference while the Mounties fell to 3-5 and 2-3.
Seniors Derek Gross and Colton Service made it a Senior Night to remember. The pair of running backs combined for nearly 40 carries, 375 yards and three touchdowns. Gross added another TD on special teams in the third quarter.
“I think both of those guys ran the ball well,” St. Paul coach John Livengood said.
“They block well for each other and I think that starts with the guys up front. They did a nice job. There was a lot of movement and got a good push and created some lanes.”
And St. Paul’s Dynamic Duo made the most of the holes the offensive line created.
Service carried the ball 17 times for 216 yards and a TD. His 47-yard score came with 2:12 until halftime and with one of Joey Catalano’s six extra points on the night, the Flyers were up 28-7.
Gross rushed 20 times for 158 yards and two TDs.
His third score came with 5:14 in the third quarter when Luke Nickoli blocked Mapleton’s punt. Gross scooped up the ball and ran it in about 20 yards for the TD to give St. Paul a 48-7 lead.
Gross had the first TD of the game and the last one in the first half.
On St. Paul’s first possession, Gross finished off a 40-yard drive with a 9-yard run to pay dirt. That gave the Flyers a 7-0 lead.
Shortly afterward, Noah Good intercepted Mapleton quarterback Logan Pharmer for a 32-yard pick-six. St. Paul put up 14 quick points before midway through the first quarter.
Despite Pharmer’s interception, Livengood said he knew before Saturday’s game that the sophomore QB and Mapleton’s offense would be a challenge to defend.
“That’s a tough offense to hold down,” the St. Paul coach said. “They throw a lot of weapons at you in space. We’re real happy with the way our kids responded.”
Pharmer connected with five receivers to go 8-of-23 and 126 yards through the air.
“He’s a very good quarterback, especially since he’s only a sophomore,” Livengood said. “He’s a very accurate passer and he’s got great weapons out there.”
For St. Paul, Nick Lukasko was 3-of-6 for 41 yards and two TDs.
Lukasko’s first passing score was a 17-yarder to Kurt Maxwell with 9:14 in the second quarter. The TD completed a 71-yard drive and gave the Flyers a 21-7 lead.
Mapleton’s first score came after a 69-yard drive that culminated with Ryan Krause’s 3-yard TD run 11 seconds into the second quarter.
St. Paul took a 35-7 lead into halftime.
With 7:43 in the third quarter, Lukasko connected with Paul Pearce for a 15-yard TD to make it 42-7.
Even though the Flyers took Mapleton’s blocked punt into the end zone, the Mounties refused to roll over. Garrett Hartley rumbled in from 15 yards for the final score of the night with 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It’s a potent offense. They spread guys out and they’ve got a good running back (in Krause) who moves the ball well and cuts back,” Livengood said.
“We came into this game knowing how good Mapleton is. Mapleton is a very, very, very good football team. I think they have the best skill kids in the conference,” he added.
St. Paul travels to South Central (2-6, 1-4) for another FC showdown Friday.
“I know the (Aaron) Lamoreaux kid is a good quarterback,” Livengood said.
“They are doing a lot more spread this year. Traditionally, they’ve been more of a two-back set, very similar to our offense. This year, they are a lot more spread out.”
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at "Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger."