Last year, St. Joe’s season ended at Amzie Miller Field in New Prairie. On September 7th of this year, New Prairie visited Fr. Bly Field and strutted home happy tomcats. On Friday October 26th, when it counted, the Cougars lost their claws and slunk back down Indiana Highway 2.
The Indians began the game with a strong defensive stand to force New Prairie to punt. On the following possession, St. Joe marched down the field into the end zone with a 44 yard pass from Ashton Ruszkowski to John Paul Lewis. Patrick Oliva kicked the extra point. After a kickoff pinned New Prairie on the 2, the Cougars burst off the right edge for a 98 yard touchdown. Things were a little scary following an Indian fumble, and New Prairie was able to score on a 4 yard run. John Driscoll answered the bell, however, in this heavyweight slugfest by returning the kickoff back 82 yards. After a good snap by Luke Thomas, good hold by Ruszkowski, and a good kick by Oliva, the game was tied after the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to the Indians. Teddy Maginn recovered a fumble that led to another St. Joe touchdown on a 13 yard Ruszkowski pass to Conor Ratigan. Then Luke Leonard ripped out the ball from the kitty cat claws and recovered the fumble himself to set up Conor Ratigan’s second touchdown when Ashton Ruszkowski slung a 36 yarder to him as he was being mugged by the New Prairie secondary. Both extra points were good, and Indians led 28-14 at the half.
The Indians struck immediately in the second half with another John Driscoll kickoff return and Patrick Oliva kick. New Prairie put together a long drive to score on a 6 yard touchdown run, but missed the extra point. It was 35-20 after 3 quarters.
St. Joe drove down the field again, but missed a 38 yard field goal attempt. Then New Prairie was able to turn the possession into a touchdown with a two point conversion, and the lead was down to 7. The Indians answered with a 3rd John Driscoll touchdown when he danced down the sideline for 34 yards, and Oliva kicked the extra point. New Prairie was driving down the field when Dan Stone intercepted the Cougar toss giving St. Joe the ball inside the 20. St. Joe was forced to punt and after a low snap, and John Driscoll had to bat the ball out of the end zone for a New Prairie safety. Good free kick coverage and personal fouls from New Prairie pinned the Cougars deep in the own territory. New Prairie’s last few offensive plays to stay in the game fell short and the Indians triumphed. St. Joe travels to Mishawaka on Friday playing for a Sectional 18 Championship.