St. Mary’s Ryken gets defensive in shutout win
SMR shuts out Dunbar for third straight win
St. Mary’s Ryken’s offense has been clicking just fine lately, but it was the defense which took center stage Friday night in a 45-0 dismantling of visiting Dunbar of Washington, D.C.
The Knights (3-0 overall), who won just once last year, have won their first three games of the season under first-year head coach Aaron Brady for the first time since 2013, when they finished 8-2.
“It feels great,” said senior quarterback Kristian Marks of his team’s fast start. “Coming off last year’s [struggles] to start off this year is phenomenal. The guys bought in to the program and it’s been amazing. [The dif- ference is] leadership. This year we’ve pulled a lot of leaders out. The senior leadership has been amazing.”
“It’s a shock, it is a shock, but it’s our plan to shock everybody,” said St. Mary’s Ryken junior lineman Anthony Wilson, who had a fumble recovery in the win. “We have a lot of doubters that don’t believe in us, but we’re out to change that.”
The Knights scored all the offense they would need with a 28-point first quarter and that was way more than enough for the defensive unit, which was impenetrable all night.
“I think our defense played really well. They played assignment football and did what they were supposed to do,” Brady said. “I think the biggest bonus tonight was our defense and our special teams.”
St. Mary’s Ryken’s defense held Dunbar (0-2) to minus-36 yards rushing — 10 of 14 rushing attempts were for zero or negative yardage — and 26 yards passing.
“[Dunbar 6-foot-4 quarterback Jalen Carter] is a good athlete, so to contain [him] we kept the [defensive] ends on the outside and made sure he could only go back inside to our linebacker coverage,” Knights senior lineman Mike McIntosh said. “We had good assignments, good reads, everything went well. It feels great as
a defense to shut them down like that.”
“We shut down the running game right from the start,” Brady said, “which was just reading our keys and doing our job, and good tackling.”
Dunbar managed just just two first downs, both of which came off Knights penalties, and crossed midfield for the first time early in the third quarter, and only because the Knights had a pair of 15-yard penalties.
Dunbar’s average starting field position was its own 20-yard line while SMR’s was the Crimson Tide 39.
“We knew they were [vulnerable] at certain points of their defense, so we wanted to exploit that from the beginning,” said Marks, who also plays defensive back. “We had a really good game plan, so we knew if we stuck to that, we could score a lot of points.”
The game was all but over after the first quarter as the Knights opened the scoring on Calvin Bell’s 39-yard touchdown run to complete a 7-play, 77-yard opening drive, which was kept alive when Ernie Sigmon ran for 22 yards and a first down on a fake punt.
Marks hooked up with Camden Boyle on a 15yard strike the following possession, then the Knights took advantage of turnovers to score three times in 3 minutes 14 seconds.
Will McKay blocked a punt and Wilson recovered the ball at the Crimson Tide 13 to set up Nick Jaffurs’ 9-yard touchdown catch. Following another turnover two plays later, D’Angelo Tull ran it in from four yards out to make it 28-0. Forty-two sec- onds later, Will Johnson scored his first varsity touchdown on an 8-yard strike.
Marks later tossed a 54-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Wynn and Jamaree Bowman scored on a 34-yard run.
Senior kicker Camden Murphy connected on all seven extra points and hit a school record 47-yard field goal in the third quarter to cap an 11-play, 65-yard drive.
“I knew coming in here it was going to be a tough outing because they’re a big, physical team and they have some athletes,” said Dunbar head coach Maurice Vaughn, who has just 24 players. “We don’t have any depth at all. We have a large JV and we’ve had to build it up from the ground up. We have to go through the storm until we get to where we want to be. I saw more effort today and I’m proud of how they played.”
St. Mary’s Ryken freshman receiver Will Johnson heads toward the end zone late in the first quarter on his way to an 8-yard score, his first-ever varsity touchdown. The Knights went on to beat Dunbar 45-0.