Winning pitch

Successful gadget play highlights St. Francis opening-night victory

Sept. 4, 2008

At some point during St. Francis’ 49-14 season-opening football victory over St. Thomas More on Aug. 29, the sideline chatter between some guys who have to be concerned with statistics centered on a second-quarter play on which St. Francis scored a touchdown.

The score came what the coaches call, for short, “hitch and pitch.” In this version, on a play that started at the St. Francis 34, Mariners quarterback Cory Knapp threw a hitch pass to Jordan Hrncar. Then Hrncar, after a gain of 9 yards, lateraled to Justin Ferry, who covered the remaining 57 yards for the touchdown.

How would the yards would be distributed and categorized?

Though they found question interesting, neither Ferry nor Knapp cared.

Ferry: “I don’t really mind, as long as we win. It’s all about the team. It’s not about individual stats.”

Knapp: That’s a pretty tough question. Give them to the offensive line.”

St. Francis Coach Doug Sarver, after saying “my personal secret”, offered the correct answer: “9 yards to Hrncar and the rest are Ferry. And it’s all going to be on passing.”

That is precisely the way the 2008 NCAA Football Statisticians’ Manual says the yards are to be credited. Knapp gets credit for 66 yards passing, Hrncar with a 9-yard reception and Ferry with 57 receiving yards (but not a reception).

Ferry said the Mariners just started practicing the play last week.

“We’ve always run it in past years,” Ferry said. “It worked during practice, so we thought we could get them in the game.”

St. Thomas More, which has only 23 players, scored first and tied the game at 14 with 2:52 left in the first half when quarterback Lucas Swider and running back Mike Wasilik teamed on a 59-yard scoring pass down the St. Thomas More sideline. St. Francis pulled out the hitch and pitch on the second play after the kickoff to take the lead for good, 21-14, which is the way the half ended.

The Mariners ran three plays and punted the first time they had the ball. They ran one play at the end of the first half, and scored on their other seven possessions.

Knapp completed seven of 10 passes for 185 yards. Ferry had two receptions for 107 yards. Tyler Bostedt had three catches for 46 yards.

The Mariners really ground up the Cavaliers during the second half. They ran the ball on 23 of their 25 plays.

Will Frisch ran for 191 yards on 14 carries. He ran 74 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and caught a 23-yard TD pass from Knapp.

“I knew they were wearing down, and if we just kept running Will (Frisch) and (Evan) Biller, those two tough running backs, and then add Ferry in there once in awhile, that in time we could wear them down,” Sarver said.

It was a rough start for the Cavaliers, were without senior running back/defensive back Brian Klamecki, who has a broken left forearm and will not play this season. Several players limped off at various times.

St. Thomas More coach Chris Clarey wants to see better play, no matter the numbers.

“You can’t make penalties, you’ve got to sustain drives, you’ve got to take care of the ball and you’ve got to get three-and-outs from our defense,” Clarey said. “We can win with 23 guys if we do that. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long night … simple as that.”

Jerry Karpowicz can be reached at (262) 446-6628.

St. Francis 49,

St. Thomas More 14

St. TMSt. Francis
First Downs1111
Rushing Yards79308
Passing Yards169185
Total Yards248493

Next Kickoff

WHO: St. Francis (1-0) vs. Whitnall (1-0)

WHAT: Woodland Conference football game

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5

WHERE: Whitnall High School, 5000 S. 116th St., Greenfield.

PREVIEW: Nick Vlahos ran 18 yards for the winning TD with 53 seconds left in the Falcons’ 42-35 victory over New Berlin West … Vlahos also scored on runs of 39 and 3 yards and ran for 163 yards on 25 carries … Bennett Kaye completed 10 of 15 passes for 112 yards, but had two intercepted.

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