A look at St. Laurence/St. Rita battles in the 2000s
2000—St. Rita 55, St. Laurence 33
2001—St. Rita 36, St. Laurence 8
2002—St. Rita 43, St. Laurence 0
2005—St. Rita 45, St. Laurence 0
2013—St. Rita 55, St. Laurence 14
2016—St. Laurence 45, St. Rita 42
Only one word can describe this football game.
Last Friday’s non-conference contest between St. Laurence and St. Rita more than lived up to the hype and anyone’s expectation.
With both teams entering the contest at 2-1 and averaging over 40 points a game, the 45-42 last-minute win for the visiting Vikings had a lot of folks buzzing about the rivalry that once was between these two schools, who have met just twice in the previous 13 years. Throw in the fact that St. Rita scheduled the Vikings for its homecoming celebration and you have the seeds planted for a rivalry renewed.
The game had everything a rivalry needs starting with heroes.
And there were plenty of them.
St. Laurence receiver Levy Hamer made two fourth-down receptions on what turned out to be the winning drive including the final miraculous play on fourth-and-10 from the Mustang 44 with less than 30 seconds remaining. The ball was intended for slot receiver, Nick Garbie. The ball went through Garbie’s hands and into the waiting arms of Hamer who took it to the house to for the game winning score.
The one-two punch of running back Fayezon Smart and quarterback Romello Washington also starred. The pair combined for nearly 600 yards of offense and four touchdowns. Smart had most of his 251 rushing yards in the first three quarters and when he began to cramp up in the fourth paving the way for Washington lead the team down the field with his arm.
“We’ve been playing together since second grade,” said Smart. “We’re best friends.”
“We’ve got each other’s back,” said Washington.
For St. Rita, quarterback Jake Zylman helped keep his team in the game throwing for 218 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 131. Shaun Rule made the most of his 37 yards rushing by scoring four touchdowns including the score that put the Mustangs ahead late in the fourth.
Adding spice to the renewed rivalry was the Mustang and Viking student sections battling each other all night as hard as the players on the field. Every chant from the St. Rita section was met with a chant of “We can’t hear you,” from the St. Laurence side or “Scoreboard, scoreboard, scoreboard,” as the Vikings had control of the game for nearly three and a half quarters.
Like any good rivalry game, it had plenty of lead changes and momentum shifts. It had both teams on the ropes looking like they might fold during the game only to get their second wind and make the game memorable. St. Rita had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but couldn’t convert a field goal attempt.
While the St. Laurence players and fans went delirious and the St. Rita faithful sat stunned trying to figure out how this game got away from them, Viking head coach, Harold Blackmon said it came down to just one word -- luck.
“We got lucky,” said Blackmon. “It’s as simple as that. They’re a great team (St. Rita) but we let them back in the game and that’s just unacceptable.”
Blackmon let his team know of his displeasure in the postgame huddle. Anyone who didn’t see the game and walked by the Viking huddle would have thought they had just gotten blown out between Blackmon’s booming voice and the expression on the player’s faces. But, like any good coach, he let them know how he felt but not too much to dampen their excitement for what had just taken place. And it’s the second Class 8A team the Vikings beat this year after knocking off Benet in the first week of action. St. Laurence (3-1) could end up in Class 5A or 6A come playoff time.
Earlier in the night, one of the chants from the St. Rita student section was, “Go home Laurence.” The Laurence faithful obliged and went home with the “W” intact.