St. Joe were workmanlike from the start, taking its first possession right down the field capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Kevin McFadden.
Showing it can move the ball around at will, the Indians offense showed a flare for the prolific when quarterback Matt Monserez threw a dart to receiver Eric Mossey on the far sideline for a 42-yard completion to the Wawasee one-yard line. One play later, Tajah Smith punched it in, and Wawasee were facing all kinds of problems trailing 14-0.
The game reached its most critical point in the final two minutes of the first half. Wawasee mounted a drive that saw running back Derrick Sorensen bust off a 19-yard run to the St. Joe 19. Quarterback DJ Semon then scampered 10 yards, setting up a nine-yard pitch and catch between Semon and receiver Austin Lutz in the corner of the end zone, stunning the visitors and bringing life to an otherwise stagnant first half.
But that all changed just seconds later.
After a modest kick-off return, Wawasee set up for St. Joe to pass in a last ditch effort to kick a long field goal before the half. Instead, Ryan Jankowski took a handoff and slipped through the teeth of the Warrior defense for 61 yards. After a 10-yard pass from Monserez to Mossey, McFadden thundered home for the score, and the stun was too much to overcome.
“Bar none, that was one of the best passing games we have seen in a long time,” said Wawasee head coach Tom Wogomon. “There were some situations that we flat got exposed on. When you have a team as talented as St. Joe, and we’re still going through some learning processes, when they were able to do what they wanted to do, things like that are going to happen.”
The Indians tacked on its two second-half scores when Monserez connected with Mossey on a 10-yard pass, and Smith erupted for a 76-yard run midway in the fourth quarter.
Monserez finished 12-18 for 231 yards, 127 of those going to Mossey on eight completions. Jankowski rushed for 137 yards on 13 carries while Smith ended with 87 yards. St. Joe racked up 462 total yards of offense. Semon and Sorensen combined for 131 yards on the ground on 29 carries for the Warriors.
St. Joe (1-1), which were embarrassed at Chesterton, 24-7, a week ago, looked more like the team that has been to the 3A state finals in each of the past two seasons and three times in the past five years. Wogomon can only hope the work St. Joseph did on his home turf can help his team, now 1-1 on the season, move in the right direction.
“You can tell that team has had 10 more games in the past two years than we have,” said Wogomon, noting St. Joe’s tournament run the past two years. “Those games add up. They understand what its like to play at that quality level.
“We hope to get to that level to where we can play to that level. They know how to prepare, how to show up, how to play the game. That’s what quality teams do. If we have the aspirations to be that quality team, we’ll be playing football like that eventually.”