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McCray, defense lead St. Joseph’s Prep over Archbishop Wood

CHESTER >> Marquez McCray and his teammates heard it all summer.

All offseason long, the same thing over and over. Without D’Andre Swift, St. Joe’s Prep was going to take a step back.

Three games into the season, McCray and his teammates have shown that’s not the case.

Behind 144 passing yards and 61 rush yards from McCray and a crushing defensive effort, the Prep improved to 3-0 with a 27-7 thumping of Archbishop Wood Friday night at Widener. McCray, a 6-foot-2, 200 pound senior, has taken over leadership of the offense.

“A lot of teams will play zone but Archbishop Wood has great (defensive backs) like Nasir Peoples so they have a lot of trust in their guys and they played a lot of man,” McCray said. “That opened up a lot of options for us.”

Defensively, Wood often failed to bring down Prep ballcarriers or receivers on the first try, with the Hawks either slipping or powering through tackles. The secondary was also hurt on a handful of big gains, including a 33-yard touchdown pass from McCray to Brandon Sanders that opened the scoring.

The loss dropped Wood to 2-2, albeit against a daunting schedule and the Vikings know they are far from a finished product.

“I think we’re going to be good and we have the talent to win the state,” Peoples said. “We can hang in any game with anybody, we just have to play hard, execute and we’ll be fine.”

Wood senior Nasir Peoples ran for 130 yards on 22 carries, but the Vikings were otherwise kept in check offensively. Peoples scored the lone Vikings touchdown on a 21-yard run in the first quarter and while the Virginia Tech recruit had amassed 68 yards on his first seven carries, only three of the next 15 went for more than five yards.

“I have to read the blocks better,” Peoples said. “I think we did a good job blocking, I just have to read them better.”

The Prep should have scored on the opening drive of the game, but normally automatic senior Anthony Tigano pushed a field goal try wide. It would be the only blemish on the night for Tigano, who kicked field goals of 25 and 40 yards and hit all three of his extra points.

It didn’t matter much, as Prep’s ferocious defensive front forced Wood into a three-and-out and a short punt handed the Hawks the ball on the Vikings’ 33-yard line.

McCray threaded a ball to Sanders in the endzone, somehow managing to find his guy’s hands despite the receiver being covered by a corner and a safety.

“I couldn’t even see him, so I just threw it the spot we work on in practice,” McCray said. “He was able to go and get it.”

Wood answered with an 80-yard drive that used three big runs to tie the game. First, quarterback Jack Colyar picked up 13 yards on a third down keeper to move the chains, then Peoples broke free for a 36-yard gain to flip the field and the senior finally capped it with his 21-yard run.

That would be it for the Vikings offensively.

Prep re-gained the lead on Tigano’s 25-yard field goal with 1:14 left in the first quarter never trailed again.

“It’s all practice and trusting in each other,” Prep senior defensive lineman Paul Hess said. “We worked as a unit, everyone going to the ball and everyone running down the ball.”

Wood did move the ball well on a drive that bridged the end of the first and start of the second quarter. On 4th-and-2 from the Prep 30, Colyar hit Adrian Lambert, who went down the right sideline and into the endzone, only for the play to get called back on a helmet-to-helmet hit, wiping the points off the board and forcing Wood to re-try from 4th-and-12.

Instead, the Vikings opted to punt and a touchback handed the ball to Prep on the 20. McCray had completions of 18, 28 and 8 yards on the drive, which was capped by a 7-yard Marques Mason touchdown run.

“Last year when I was starting, I just worried about what I had to do because I had so many play-makers around me,” McCray said. “Now I feel like I have a grasp of the whole offense so I can see things before they happen.”

McCray pretty much iced the game with a 55-yard run late in the fourth quarter that helped set up Mason’s second score of the night.

“I was supposed to go left but it just opened up to the right,” McCray said. “My receivers did a great job of blocking.”

Prep improved to 3-0, but McCray said there’s still work to be done. A meeting with La Salle still looms on the PCL schedule but the Hawks aren’t looking that far ahead.

“We just play Prep football,” McCray said. “It switches every game, sometimes it’s a lot of power, sometimes it’s a lot of passing. We heard the D’Andre thing all summer, but it’s good to see our young guys get a chance to show who they are.”

ST. JOSEPH’S PREP 10 7 3 7 – 27
Scoring Plays
1st Quarter
SJP – Brandon Sanders 33 pass from Marquez McCray (Anthony Tigano kick) 7:32
AW – Nasir Peoples 21 run (Bobby Hennessey kick) 4:42
SJP – Tigano 25 field goal 1:14
2nd Quarter
SJP – Marques Mason 7 run (Tigano kick) 6:06
3rd Quarter
SJP – Tigano 40 field goal 4:00
4th Quarter
SJP – Mason 1 run (Tigano kick) 1:11

Team Stats
First downs 10 11
Rushes-Yards 29-156 36-194
Passing 8-19-0-1 9-15-1-0
Passing Yards 77 144
Total Yards 233 338
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-48 9-65

Individual Stats
Rushing: SJP – Marques Mason 17-77, Kolbe Burrell 10-47, Sahmir Hagans 2-9, Marquez McCray 7-61; AW – Nasir Peoples 22-130, Jack Colyar 2-14, Adrian Lambert 3-6, Ryan Loughlin 1-1, Chris Blackstone 1-5
Passing: SJP – McCray 9-15-1-0-144; AW – Colyar 8-19-0-1-77
Receiving: SJP – Brandon Sanders 4-70, Anthony Leneghan 1-3, Johnny Freeman 3-54, Marques Mason 1-17; AW – Kyle Pitts 1-22, Adrian Lambert 1-10, Billy Schaeffer 1-6, Ryan Loughlin 2-38, Nasir Peoples 2-(-5), Tamir Barksdale 1-6
Interceptions: SJP – Zach Bouggess



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