By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
MOODY – The Moody Blue Devils got one step closer to a region championship in a rare Thursday night game at The Bill and did so in dominant fashion, whipping the St Clair County Saints 60-0. En route to the blowout win, Moody scored in all facets of the game; offense, defense and special teams. And the defense finally got the shutout they have worked for all year. “They have been playing shutout-worthy defense all year,” said Moody’s Jake Ganus. “Tonight, they finally got it and I am very proud of them.”
The Saints got the ball first and could do nothing with it. Gavin Baker would end the drive by sacking the Saints’ quarterback. On the ensuing drive, Moody’s Charlie Johnston would find Aidan Robinson from 40 yards out to begin the scoring for the Blue Devils with just over two minutes off the clock.
The Saints would get the ball back but give it right back to Moody when Zane Smith pounced on a fumble. On the very next play, Johnston would throw his second touchdown of the night, this time to Braden Wright from 34 yards out, to make it 14-0 with 7:01 to play in the first.
St Clair would find some success on the next drive but would stall out at Moody’s 25-yard line. From there, Blaine Burke would take the handoff from Johnston and blast off for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Blue Devils with 1:42 to go in the first.
The second quarter would see the Saints held to a punt that would pin Moody at their own one-yard line. From there, Burke broke a Blue Devil record by bursting through the line on the first play of the drive and taking it to the house from 99 yards out and the rout was on. Moody now led 28-0 at the 8:52 mark of the second. Four minutes later, Johnston would find Josiah Dozier for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 35-0 with 5:02 to go in the half.
To open the next drive, Johnston found KD Barnes for a 45-yard strike to get the ball to the three where Johnston would call his own number to make it 42-0. With 36 seconds to go, the Moody defense had St Clair in the shadows of their own goal post where Logan Hall would get the sack on the St Clair quarterback in the end zone, making it 44-0 Moody. AJ Madison would then take the kickoff 68 yards to the pay window and send the Blue Devils into the locker room with a commanding 51-0 lead.
The first three times Moody got the ball in the third quarter, they gave it back to St Clair. Johnston threw a dart to Aidan Robinson but he was unable to hang on to it, tipping it into the air and into the hands of a Saint defender. Thankfully, the Moody defense took the field and Ba’Roc Willis sacked the quarterback for another Moody safety to make it 53-0. Josiah Dozier would return the kickoff to the one-yard line but fumble the ball into the end zone where the Saints would recover. Backup quarterback Bryton Usrey would throw an interception the next time Moody got the ball. Caleb Gore would cap off the scoring at the 4:58 mark of the fourth to make it 60-0 which would be the final score.
Ba’Roc Willis would finish the game with 9 total tackles followed by Gavyn Baker with 8. Charlie Johnston would finish the night six of 12 for 148 yards and three touchdowns with the one interception plus a running touchdown.
Sophomore defensive lineman Cameron Mallory said of the shutout, “It wasn’t perfect. We did enough to get the shutout. We’ve been wanting it for a long time. I’m just trying to finish games better. I am looking for perfection and domination.”
Blaine Burke would have his best game of the season with four carries for 178 yards and two touchdowns on the night, saying, “We have two really big games to set up for first in the region so this game boosts me to just keep having good games coming up. My o-line and my receivers blocked their tails off for me tonight and without them, I am nothing. All credit goes to them.”
Senior leader at defensive back, Sidney Walton spoke of the shutout, “It feels great. We did our part and filled our role. We have to grow from here and move on and keep working.”
Coach Jake Ganus was pretty happy with his team’s performance on the night. “It’s definitely the most complete game we’ve played all year. It definitely helped being perfect on extra points and Junior put the ball into the end zone a lot. I’m proud of the guys. The three turnovers took the fire and sting out of the coaches. The score was great. We had 589 yards of total offense tonight and that’s even hard to do against air.”
Moody will take on Leeds next Friday at Homer Smiles Field in Leeds. Last year, both teams entered the game undefeated. This year, Moody enters with one loss and Leeds will likely come into the contest with two losses. Ganus said of the coming Battle of the Bridge. “The next game is the biggest one because it is the next game. We don’t need to make it bigger than it is. It’s just the next one. Moody has beat them once in history. That kind of thing gets into the kids’ heads and they know kids from there and they’ve played against them. It has to be about us. Last year I think we talked about it being about us but didn’t live it. We have to have a simple game plan and not overthink it. I trust my coaches, they do a great job and I’m confident we will have the right game plan and the players will execute.”