After a slow start to the season, it’s safe to say St. Francis has again found its way to success on the football field. In fact, the Red Raiders have again found their way to The Ralph.
Third-seeded St. Francis won for the fourth time in its last five games and evened its season record at 5-5 by routing sixth-seeded Cardinal O’Hara, 44-0, on Thursday night in the Monsignor Martin Association quarterfinals.
Brendon Misterman ran for three long touchdowns to highlight a 240-yard rushing day, while the Red Raiders’ Jacob Braunscheidel and Devantie Campbell each recorded first-quarter safeties as the hosts bolted to a 17-0 lead through the opening 12 minutes and cruised into the semifinals.
The Red Raiders will face second-seeded St. Joe’s during the semifinal doubleheader next Thursday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which starts at 5 p.m.
Fifth-seeded Bishop Timon-St. Jude beat fourth-seeded St. Mary’s, 24-7, in Thursday’s other quarterfinal and will face regular season and defending playoff champion Canisius in the other semifinal. It’s a rematch of last year’s final, which Canisius won, 28-20.
Misterman, a senior running back, scored on runs of 40, 75 and 59 yards as St. Francis won its third in a row. Recent junior varsity call-ups Jylan Montgomery and Robert Dempsey also scored, on runs of 34 and 21 yards, respectively, as the Red Raiders rushed for all of their 301 yards in total offense.
After the Red Raiders recorded a safety on O’Hara’s first offensive play, Gerald Hickson scored on a 1-yard run to make it 9-0.
St. Francis has a chance to avenge one of its regular-season losses. The Red Raiders dropped a 27-20 decision on their home field to St. Joe’s on Oct. 4 – a game in which they kept the Marauders under wraps for more than two quarters before Nigel Davis and his teammates started making plays out of the Wildcat formation.
“I think the kids are starting to really believe in themselves more,” said St. Francis coach Jerry Smith, noting that the team has stressed blocking, tackling and hard work in practice since losing at Aquinas on Oct. 18. “They know they can get the job done. They’re working extremely hard.”
• Bishop Timon-St. Jude 24, St. Mary’s 7: Trailing 7-6, the Tigers took the lead for good on a 19-yard TD run by Arenzo Thomas with 9:27 left in the third quarter. Just over four minutes later, Thomas’ 77-yard TD run made it 18-7. Thomas rushed for 183 yards on nine carries.
Derick Simpson had seven tackles and sealed the win by returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.