What We Learned: No. 9 St. Frances Academy takes down No. 18 St. Joseph Regional

Photo: Logan Newman/USA TODAY High School Sports

With a dominant third quarter, No. 9 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) took down No. 18 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) 28-0.

St. Joseph was unable to take advantage of turnovers in the first half and the Panthers broke out in the third with three rushing touchdowns from three different ball handlers to extend its 7-0 halftime lead to an unreachable margin.

The Panthers’ defense continued to dominate, holding the top New Jersey team, one which had scored 55 points a week ago, scoreless.

Here are some takeaways:

SFA’s defense stopped the St. Joseph Regional rush attack

St. Joseph Regional running back Audric Estime came into the week averaging 139 rushing yards per game and had seven touchdowns in just three appearances. His production was instrumental if the Green Knights were to have a shot. But the Panthers marginalized his production. Estime had 10 carries in the first half for just 20 total yards, according to NJ Advance Media reporter Pat Lanni.

While the Panthers’ offense wasn’t moving that first half, St. Joseph couldn’t get anything going either. Then, in the third quarter Estime got hurt, which may have played a role in the Panthers stopping St. Joseph on a fourth-and-one when he was off the field.

Missed chances for St. Joseph Regional

That fourth-and-one was just one of the opportunities the Green Knights couldn’t take advantage of. There was some sloppy play from both teams in the first half, including a sequence in which St. Joseph running back Christian Abraham fumbled, but then Terrance Spence got an interception on the next play. St. Joseph got to the red zone, but a sack forced the team into a 48-yard field goal that was missed. That was one of two missed field goals in the first half for St. Joseph, who trailed 7-0 at the break.

The Green Knights also forced a fumble on a sack. That’s one issue St. Frances has had against the great teams it faces. Quarterback John Griffith fumbled multiple times against Mater Dei two weeks ago, and securing the ball will be vital in the next big game against IMG (Bradenton, Florida) next month. But the St. Frances defense held up and St. Joseph was forced to punt.

When the offense isn’t moving, SFA can turn to the run game

Michigan commit Blake Corum is the driving factor of the St. Frances offense, and he scored a touchdown early in the third quarter to extend the lead to two scores. Later in the quarter, Griffith rushed for a touchdown of his own. Finally, Lamar Patterson punched one in from 12 yards out.

Griffith has shown some strong flashes as a passer throughout the season, but when St. Frances’ offense isn’t moving, the run game has been a constant – specifically Corum. Griffith can also move well, considering his pro-style designation on 247Sports, and there are times when the Panthers are best suited to pound the ball and let their athletes go to work. Griffith did throw a touchdown in the first half, but when the going got tough, the run game came through. As it so often does for this Panthers team.

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