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St. Joe’s Prep Steamrolls Way Past Parkland, Punches Ticket Into State Semifinals.

Tagged under: District 11, District 12, Gameday Hub, News, Playoffs

| November 26, 2022


St.Joe’s Prep Hawks Set The Tone Early en route to Convincing Win Over Parkland Saturday Afternoon.

BETHLEHEM- St. Joe’s Prep left no doubt whatsoever, why they are considered to be the the best 6A football team in the State of Pennsylvania, as they scored touchdowns their first seven drives of the first half to jump out to a 49-6 lead over a game, but over-matched Parkland Trojans squad. The Hawks coasted to a 52-21 win at Bethlehem School District Stadium on a picture-perfect day for football in the Lehigh Valley.

Led by Junior quarterback Samaj Jones, who threw for 207 yards on 9 of 14 passing and tossing for two scores. He laso rushed for another 93 yards on 8 carries and scored twice. Running backs Erik Sanchez and Khaseem Phillips, also both juniors, added 96 and 83 yards respectively while Sanchez toted the ball ten times and crossed the goal line twice. Phillips scored once while his number was called 13 times.

The Hawks received the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss and decided to get the offense on the field first. That move paid off on just five plays as Sanchez got outside and outran the Trojan defenders on a 42 yard gallop to get the scoring started and a 7-0 lead. The drive went 80 yards and took just a 1:26 off the clock.

Parkland, showed no signs of being intimidated by the District 12 powerhouse, as this was the fifth time these two teams have met in the playoffs. The last time was in 2014 as the Hawks came out on top 34-30. Quarterback Luke Spang led his charges downfield on two consecutive drives, but could not punch it for seven points and had to settle for two field goals by Gryffin Mitstifer from 39 and 41 yards. Spang, threw for 234 yards on 15 of 27 passing. The Trojans were without starting running back Trey Tremba, who was injured in the District XI championship game last week against Bethlehem Freedom. The Trojans were hel d to just 15 yards rushing by a stout Hawk’s defense.

On the Hawks second drive following Mitstifer’s first field goal, they drove 70 yards on nine plays with Jones taking it in from 12 yards out and a 14-3 lead with 4:16 left in the opening quarter.

Using the receiving duo of Nakai Bullock, 8 receptions for 126 yards and Jack Harrison three catches and 55 yards, again Parkland was able to pick up some big chunks of yards on a 60 yard 8 play drive, but again had to settle for a Mitstifer 41 yard field goal to make it 14-6 with 2:03 on the clock.

Then the defending state finalist went on a 35-0 run to put the game out of reach as the entire second half was played under the mercy-rule. St. Joe’s out-gained the Trojans 425-158 in the half and didn’t punt once until the fourth quarter.

Phillips scored from eight yards out the next time the Hawks had the ball. The drive went 80 yards on just three plays. The key play was a 67 yard pass on a quick out from Samaj Jones to Elijah Jones along the sidelines set the ball inside the ten, then on next play Phillips scooted in making it 21-6 with just under a minute left still in the first quarter.

It only took the Hawks thirteen plays in the second quarter to score 28 points as the Trojan defense was kept on its heels with the balanced attack of the precise execution of the St. Joe’s offense was on display. Isaiah West started the scoring spree with a 23 yard reception from Jones to finish off a 78 yard 5 play drive that took just 2:28 and a 28-6 lead.

After making a stop on 4th down down on defense, The Hawks found their way to another score as David Washington took a short pass from Jones and weaved his way to a seven yard score, capping off a 5 play 55 yard drive that took less than two minutes off the clock making it 35-6 with 4:37 left in the half.

After forcing another punt, The Hawks wasted very little time as Jones had a highlight reel 45 yard run as he leaped over a Trojan defender and then cut sharply back to the middle of the field on his way to a nifty 45 yard score and a 42-6 lead with still 2:47 left on the clock. The drive covered 65 yards on just two plays.

A rare block of a Mitstifer punt occurred on the next Parkland possession and allowed the Hawks to gain possession on the Trojan five. From there it took just one play for the next Hawk score as Sanchez took it in with 1:33 left that left the score at 49-6 and allowed the running clock to kick in the entire second half.

“We could have tackled better and maybe we could have played better in the first half.” Parkland coach Tim Moncman stated. “That is an outstanding team we faced. They are solid in every facet of the game. They are big up front. We didn’t play the perfect game we needed to. Bottom line is that is a pretty damn good team.” He concluded.

Parkland did show it’s resilience in the second half as Bullock took the second half kickoff back 95 yards after misplaying the ball initially at his own five, but the Hawks special teams hesitated and allowed Bullock to find some room down the home sidelines as Bullock tight-roped his way to the end zone making it 49-14 after connecting on the two-point conversion as Spang hit Harrison in the corner of the end zone.

St. Joe’s then went on their longest drive of the game an 11 play drive that covered 53 yards and culminated on a Ryan Miller 28 yard field goal to extend the lead to 52-14. The key play was a fake punt from the Hawks 30 that resulted in a first down to extend the possession.

Parkland would counter with a score of their own as Spang lobbed up a perfect pass to Harrison who out leaped the defender for a 26 yard score completing a 5 play 76 yard drive to make it 52-21 with 3:07 left in the third quarter.

The Hawks(11-1) will advance to the state semifinals next week against Garnet Valley(13-0). Garnet Valley defeated Central Bucks West Friday night 35-7. Last year St. Joe’s defeated Garnet Valley 49-13 before losing the 6A championship game 35-17 to Mount Lebanon. St. Joe’s are now 23-2 all-time in the state playoffs and are in search of their seventh state championship.

“It’s about playing to a standard and at times we did that today,” coach Tim Roken said. “We would have liked to be a little cleaner, especially at the start of the second half on special teams. But we were able to move the ball really well and spread it around to various bunch of guys. They moved the ball pretty well against us, but we were able to just hold them to just field goals in the first half.”

Quarterback Samaj Jones had this to say after the win:

Also Linebacker Josiah Trotter had a nice game making some key tackles and pressured Spang on occasion as well had this to say about his teams effort.

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