By BOB PARASILITI
11:16 PM EDT, November 3, 2012
The Saint James football team found out why they are called “special teams” on Saturday.
That’s because there was nothing ordinary about the third phase of Avalon School’s game.
In fact, it was extraordinary.
The Black Knights broke the game open with a pair of special teams plays and added six two-point conversions to turn an outstanding early effort from the Saints into a drop in the bucket in a 60-18 rout in Saint James’ season finalé.
Avalon (6-4) came back from an 18-16 deficit late in the first quarter and scored the final 46 points of the game to leave the Saints bruised, battered and beaten.
“We knew what we were up against. They are a good team … a really good team,” said Saint James coach Juwuane Sandridge. “We came out on fire and they didn’t know what was coming. But then they got that fake punt and it changed the whole game around.”
Avalon scored on two kicking situations in 30 seconds to take control of the game from the Saints (4-5), who had been setting the tone with stunning defense. In the process, the score went from 12-8 Saint James to 24-18 Avalon to start the beginning of the end.
It started when the Black Knights had a fourth-and-15 at their own 28. Instead of punting, Rachid Ibrahim took a short snap and ran straight up the middle for a 72-yard touchdown. Quarterback Wyatt Karem hit Ibrahim with a conversion pass with 7:02 to go in the first half, and Avalon had a quick 16-12 lead.
“I had a funny feeling that they were going to do that right there,” Sandridge said. “They had been setting that up the whole day. I yelled out for them to watch for the kick before they left the line, but he got through.”
Saint James answered on the next play to temporarily take back the momentum.
A fumble popped up in the air on the ensuing kick return and right into the hands of Noah Cisse, who grabbed it and charged down the right sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. The Saints failed on the conversion for a third time and led 18-16 with 6:47 to go in the half.
Then it was Avalon’s turn. Isaac Boyd grabbed the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 79 yards — ripping down the right hash marks like a dotted line — for another touchdown. Karem ran in the conversion and the Black Knights had a 24-18 lead they never relinquished.
Avalon featured Ibrahim, a running back who has committed to Pittsburgh, and Jacquille Veii, ticketed for Maryland, as the main cogs of a potent offense. It just took time for them to get started, but when they did, there was no stopping it for the Saints.
Saint James held Avalon to 58 yards in the first quarter — including 51 on a scoring drive capped by a 27-yard run by Veii — to stay in control early. The Saints owned a 12-8 lead after one quarter, as quarterback Scott Manesh hit Cisse for a 75-yard score off a swing pass and Justin Pank for a 13-yard TD pass.
It all changed quickly.
“I don’t think (Avalon) knew what happened. I don’t think they expected that from us,” Sandridge said. “The special teams killed us.”
Ibrahim rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown, while Veii added 137 yards and two scores to dominate the game.
“Maryland and Pitt should be very happy when they arrive next year,” Sandridge said. “Saying they have speed doesn’t start to describe it. They are so elusive.”
Avalon owned a 40-18 lead at halftime, as Veii scored on a 44-yard sweep and Ibrahim powered in from the 3 to enhance the lead.
Karem found Riley Eisele on a 22-yard scoring pass to start the third quarter, and James Chase scored on an 11-yard sweep to give Avalon a 52-18 lead by the end of the third quarter. Karem hit Boyd on a 10-yard scoring pass on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring.
The Saints managed just 190 yards of offense, including minus-8 yards rushing. Manesh passed for 198 yards and the two touchdowns but was picked off four times — three in the second half.
“They scored right away in the second half to put it away,” Sandridge said. “We had no offense. We couldn’t run the ball and then the passing game went bad and we were in trouble.”
Avalon 60, Saint James 18
Avalon 8 32 12 8 — 60
Saint James 12 6 0 0 — 18
SJ – Noah Cisse 75 pass from Scott Manesh (run failed)
A – Jacquille Veii 27 run (Rachid Ibrahim run)
SJ – Justin Pank 13 pass from Manesh (pass failed)
A – Ibrahim 72 run (Ibrahim pass from Wyatt Karem)
SJ – Cisse 66 fumble return on kickoff (run failed)
A – Isaac Boyd 79 kickoff return (Karem run)
A – Veii 44 run (Veii run)
A – Ibrahim 3 run (Boyd run)
A – Riley Eisele 22 pass from Karem (run failed)
A – James Chase 11 run (run failed)
A – Boyd 10 pass from Karem (Nico Carafano run)
First Downs 14 8
Rushes-yards 37-295 23-(-8)
Passing yards 79 198
Comp-Att-Int 9-15-0 12-28-4
Total offense 52-374 51-190
Fumbles-lost 4-2 3-2
Punts-avg. 4-25.8 5-30.8
Penaties-yards 8-59 4-28
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