Football: St. Helens strikes back, outlasts La Salle
An 84-yard kick return for a touchdown from Michael Bowen spurs a St. Helens victory
It's remarkable how often 48 minutes of football can hang on a single play.
But that's exactly where St. Helens (1-5, 1-5 NWOC) found themselves late in the fourth quarter on Thursday evening against La Salle (1-5, 1-5 NWOC), holding the ball on fourth and five, just outside the Falcons' red zone.
Sophomore quarterback Levi Norton, so brilliant in the last two contests, had struggled to throw the ball all evening long, and without a huge pass play to speak of, St. Helens needed a little desperate magic to extend their 21-14 lead.
Norton dropped back, looked to his right and fired low just barely into the hands of senior Justin Helgerson six yards downfield. The Falcon sideline was irate, but the play stood and the Lions scored a few moments later, holding on to defeat La Salle 28-20 for their first victory of the year.
The opening defensive possession for the Lions in the first quarter, though, brought back nightmeres of a tough, 0-5 start to the year. The Falcons started on their own 22 yard-line and pushed St. Helens backward in a hurry, scoring on an eight-play, 78-yard drive on a two-yard run from senior running back Nash Lisac.
The thing is, this is football. A lot can happen in 17 seconds.
The response is one that St. Helens will likely remember for an awfully long time. La Salle kicked the ball out of bounds on their first try, and the Lions made the fateful decision to re-kick. This time, junior Michael Bowen got ahold of it, dashed to his left and broke through the kick coverage for an 84-yard return to the end zone.
St. Helens scored again in the quarter, as sophomore Tyler Rea made his return and knocked one home on a 12-yard run with 1:55 to go. La Salle ran in a 12-yarder of their own late in the second period courtesy of speedy receiver Jalonte Walker, but the Lions, once again, had an answer.
Starting from their own 26 yard-line, St. Helens used something they hadn't seen much of all season long: the Lions pounded the ball on the ground. Rea took two shots before handing the reigns to Boland, then shifty sophomore Haidon Allen had a go. Five consecutive rushing attempts pushed St. Helens to the Falcons' 39 yard-line, before Norton finally opened up the playbook, finding Bryce Bumgardner for a 22-yard pick up to the 27 yard-line. Moments later, Myles Terry nabbed a ball from Norton and dashed home from 21 yards out to put St. Helens on top 21-14 with just seconds remaining in the half.
Going in to halftime, St. Helens still had a monkey on their back. For the first time, the Lions led at the break, but they'd struggled to play well in both halves. Against Hillsboro, St. Helens found themselves down 40-6 after two quarters and made a furious comeback. Last week on the road at Rex Putnam, the Lions were tied with the Kingsmen at halftime, before fading down the stretch.
This week, the Pride was bound and determined to play a full 48 minutes.
The road began in the third quarter, as St. Helens stifled the La Salle offense, forcing a three-and-out on the first possession and recovering a fumble on the Falcons' second outing before holding La Salle to a punt from inside their own 35.
Late in the fourth, the Lions picked up the crucial first down from Helgerson, and scored before La Salle finally got the ball rolling. The Falcons rumbled down a short field and scored in just seven plays, but the resulting kick was blocked. St. Helens recovered a muffed attempt at an onside kick, and simply took a knee to run out the clock.
The Lions will take to the road for their next match up, traveling to Milwaukie to take on the windless Mustangs on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Milwaukie is fresh off a 63-2 loss to Liberty.
Notes: 20 points is by far the fewest St. Helens has allowed this season after averaging 48.8 points against through the first five games. The win marked the return of bruising back Tyler Rea, who missed two weeks with an elbow injury.
St. Helens 28, La Salle 20
LASL 07 07 00 06 20
STHE 14 07 00 07 28
LASL Nash Lisac 5 run (John Rast kick), 6:31
STHE Michael Bowen 84 kick return (Jacob Hawkins kick), 6:14
STHE Tyler Rea 12 run (J. Hawkins kick), 1:55
LASL Jalontae Walker 12 run (J. Rast kick), 4:42
STHE Myles Terry 21 pass from Levi Norton (J. Hawkins kick), :38
STHE Bryce Bumgardner 15 pass from L. Norton (J. Hawkins kick), 2:55
LASL N. Lisac 1 run (Kick blocked), 1:18JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT