The St. Pat's football team handily defeated West Holt 32-6 on Wednesday in the second round of the state playoffs at Knights of Columbus Field.The Irish contained West Holt star running back Josh Coyle and jumped on the Huskies early to reach the Class C2 quarterfinals for the third straight year.
As you get further into the playoffs, the opposing teams and players get better and on Wednesday, St. Pat's saw Coyle, who Huskerland Prep editor Bob Jensen said was the best player in C2 on KNOP's sportscast on Tuesday.
But the Irish defense bottled up Coyle, holding him to just one touchdown that came with less than a minute left in the game.
St. Pat's coach Kevin Dodson said that his team kept him from getting into the open field and that was the key in defending the junior running back.
"When you're facing a great athlete like him, and you saw what he can do a few times, it's important to swarm to the football and I thought our kids did a great job of that," said Dodson.
The Irish (10-0) got the ball to start the game and they moved the ball into Husky territory. But the drive stalled and Brandon Niesen's field goal attempt from 38 yards out went wide left.
St. Pat's almost held West Holt (7-3) to a three and out. But Coyle ran for the first down on a fake punt to the Husky 43.
But that was the furthest West Holt got and it seemed to have gotten an advantage in field position when Coyle punted the ball to the Irish six.
A 54-yard run by Niesen flipped the field on the first play of the drive. Then three plays later, on third down and seven, quarterback Sean Keenan dumped the ball in the flat to Mark Mayfield, who carried the ball to the 16.
Keenan then got first and goal on the following play with a bootleg to the right side. Niesen carried the ball to the one on first down and then Keenan punched it in to give the Irish a 6-0 lead with just less than a minute left in the first quarter.
On their next drive, the Irish got good field position at the West Holt 44 after stopping the Huskies on fourth down. St. Pat's caught a break on first down when Keenan drew a late hit on an incomplete pass for a 15-yard penalty.
Then Niesen carried the ball for 10 more on the next play for another first down to get the ball near the red zone.
The Irish again hit paydirt when Keenan scored from four yards out. On the two point conversion, Keenan ran it in on a fake kick to make up for Niesen's missed extra point earlier to make it 14-0 with a little less than eight minutes left in the first half.
The score remained 14-0 at halftime. West Holt got the ball to start the second half but the Huskies didn't have it for long.
Austin Braun fumbled the pigskin and Adam Pasquinelly recovered for St. Pat's at the West Holt 37. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the Huskies gave the Irish first down at the 24.
St. Pat's turned the third of four West Holt turnovers into points when Keenan threw for a four-yard touchdown pass to Mayfield for a 20-0 lead after Coyle blocked the extra point from Niesen.
The outcomes of playoff games are often decided by turnovers and Dodson praised the Irish for their ability to take full advantage of them.
"I thought turnovers played a big role this afternoon," Dodson said. "Our kids stayed disciplined and that was one thing we used to our advantage."
The offense really got momentum after the third touchdown and with that momentum, St. Pat's scored two more for good measure.
Keenan found the end zone again with about four minutes left in the third with a two-yard touchdown run.
"I thought Sean made some great plays," said Dodson. "It's nice to have a quarterback that makes good decisions and I thought across the board we were better. The line was solid and our running backs ran hard."
Chase Kimberling scored the last touchdown for the Irish with four minutes left in the game. West Holt finally scored with 33 seconds when Coyle punched it in from a yard out. But it only affected what the final score was and St. Pat's came away with another victory.
In their quarterfinal matchup on Nov. 6, the Irish will travel to the Tri-City Area for the second straight year to take on Doniphan-Trumbull (8-2), who defeated Crofton on Wednesday. Last year, St. Pat's beat Hastings St. Cecilia in the quarterfinals at Duncan Field.
West Holt 0 0 0 6 - 6
St. Pat's 6 8 12 6 - 32
SP-Sean Keenan 1 run (kick failed), :53
SP-Keenan 4 run (Keenan run), 7:49
SP-Mark Mayfield 4 pass from Keenan (kick blocked), 7:23
SP-Keenan 2 run (conversion failed), 4:06
SP-Chase Kimberling 4 run (kick blocked), 4:01
WH-Josh Coyle 1 run (kick failed), :33