By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
EGG HARBOR CITY — The St. Joseph football team has been giving opponents some serious indigestion this season. On Saturday afternoon, it was Cedar Creek’s turn to search around for a bottle of antacids.
The Wildcats — as per their usual this entire season — dominated on both sides of the ball and cruised to a 33-0 victory in a game that was never really in doubt after St. Joseph bolted to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter on a 50-yard fumble recovery by Sean Morris and a 31-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jada Byers. Byers added a 45-yard interception return for a score in the first half as St. Joe built a 21-0 lead by the break.
St. Joseph improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the West Jersey Football League’s Independence Division, and moved a full game ahead of Ocean City (5-1, 3-1) and Cedar Creek (5-2, 3-1) and into sole possession of first place. The Wildcats equaled their win total from 2016 and also avenged a 17-14, double-overtime home loss to Cedar Creek a year ago.
“That was in the back of our minds, yeah. We wanted to come out, win the game and make sure they knew who we were. We were in control (at halftime) but I still felt like we needed a little bit more. We got a couple of touchdowns (in the second half) and I thought we played pretty well today. We’re a confident team, but we’re humble, too. We know each week we have to get better because anything can happen in football,” said junior guard/linebacker Bobby Hyndman. “We knew that after we lost to them last year that we wanted to come in here, make a statement and win the game. I think we did a good job today. We could have done a little better job on offense, but, hey, we have to get back at it tomorrow.”
“There was definitely some emotion coming into this game. We remembered that loss from last year,” said Morris, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound junior lineman. “We knew they were going to come out hungry, so we knew we had to come out hungrier.”
Cedar Creek needed a spark early in the second half to get back into the game, but instead St. Joseph’s special teams came up big, recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. The Wildcats set up shop at the Pirates’ 47 and marched down to the 22-yard line, where star running back Qwahsin Townsel burst through the middle and scampered into the end zone virtually untouched to push St. Joseph’s lead to 27-0 with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The defense did the rest, as the Wildcats’ defensive line stuffed the run and put all kinds of heat on Pirates’ sophomore quarterback Louie Barrios.
“We practice our steps every day in practice, and we just have to talk, communicate, call out the double teams. That’s a big part of what we do,” Morris said. “We do need to refine some of the little things. We had a couple of offsides penalties and false starts, and we can’t be doing that.”
The Wildcats put the game on ice in the fourth quarter when quarterback Mitchell Donovan hooked up with Byers for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-0.
Hyndman said he and his teammates aren’t taking anything for granted and will continue to work hard to possibly secure a No. 1 seed in the Non-Public Group 2 state playoffs.
“We have to work on our special teams — just keep getting better at everything we do,” he said. “We have a great offensive line and the chemistry is there. We just all do our jobs every day.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays