The Crusaders returned to the winners' circle on Friday with a 28-6 stomping of De La Salle. However, their method of victory differed from the team's play in previous weeks. Rather than rely on the pass, Coach Badke let sophomore Marcus Jones and the running game loose, and it paid huge dividends.
The past two weeks, the Crusaders totaled just 28 points, while allowing a combined 98 points. Jones matched the previous two weeks by himself, scoring all four Rice touchdowns. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the defensive squad stepped up its play, forcing punt after punt, recovering a fumble, and even blocking the extra point attempt following the Meteors' only score of the evening.
Jones' crusade began in the early first quarter, when he returned a punt 59 yards into Meteor territory. He capitalized on the offensive possession with a three-yard burst into the endzone to give his team an early 7-0 lead.
Jones struck again late in the first quarter. First, quarterback Matt Page moved the ball into the redzone with three consecutive hard-fought rushes. Then, Jones bulldozed his way in for his second TD and a 14-0 Crusader lead.
While the Crusaders failed to score for the rest of the half, the defense kept pace, lead by Brian Craft, Mark Tilkes, and Ed Cook. With the Meteor offense shut down in the first half, the Crusader "O" felt less pressure, even during their times of drought.
Their drought would end on their first possession of the second half. Page did get the passing game going somewhat, finding receivers Chris Rozell, Brendan McGinley, and yes, Marcus Jones. On third down, Jones again stuttered, spun, and rushed for a score, this time from ten yards out.
Though the Meteors finally answered with their first score of the game, the Crusader attack was just too deadly. With Rice handing him the ball nearly every time on their final possession, Jones put the icing on the cake with a five-yard rush TD, his fourth of the game, that gave his team a much-needed 28-6 victory that improved their record to 4-3.
Next Saturday, the Crusaders have their work cut out for them as they visit Loyola Academy. Loyola is 5-1 this season and is poised to capture the Catholic League Crown. To win, it will take Rice everything it has and then some, but one thing fans can count on 100% is that the Crusaders will compete until the last buzzer sounds.