SHINER — A strong running attack led by seniors Carson Reese and Zak Johnson propelled Shiner St. Paul to a 42-0 halftime lead over the St. Gerard Royals on Friday night in Shiner. All the Cardinals had to do after that was go on cruise control in the second half en route to a 42-14 victory.
St. Paul struck quickly and often in the first quarter, mounting a 21-0 lead by the end of the initial stanza. Zak Johnson struck the first blow for the Cardinals as he scampered into the end zone on a 41-yard run with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter. After a quick three-and-out for St. Gerard on its next possession, the Cardinals struck gold quickly when senior tight end Atley Pilat caught a 49-yard touchdown pass to put the Cardinals up 14-0
“I was pleased by the way we came out ready to play,” Shiner St. Paul head football coach Jake Wachsmuth said. “We came out and did what we had to do in the first half to take command, and then we were able to play a lot of our younger kids extensively in the second half.
“Now we just have to wait and see who we play in the playoffs.”
The Cardinals were in no mood to give St. Gerard a breath of hope in this game. After forcing St. Gerard to punt on its next possession, St. Paul rolled down the field and found paydirt once again when Carson Reese punched his touchdown ticket with a four-yard plunge at 6:31 of the first quarter.
After holding St. Gerard on their next possession, St. Paul started the second quarter with a brilliant 59-yard run by junior quarterback Kai Giese. Junior kicker Sam Benes booted his fourth consecutive extra point, and with 10:50 left in the second quarter the Cardinals were firmly in control at 28-0.
After another three-and-out for the Royals, the Cardinals steadily moved the ball down the field until Carson Reese knotted his second touchdown of the night, a three-yard plunge at the 7:45 marker in the second quarter that made the score 35-0 following Benes’ fifth extra point of the night.
The Cardinals put the final nail in the coffin when Zak Johnson sprinted 18 yards to paydirt with 6:10 left in the half as he followed some great blocking by his offensive line to make the score 42-0.
The Cardinal defense was stout in the first half, limiting St. Gerard to three first downs and never letting them on the scoreboard.
In the second half, the younger stars from Shiner St. Paul took over. Although they were able to move the ball, the Cardinals reserves could not punch a touchdown in. St. Gerard was finally able to get on the board with a pick-six interception return with 1:10 left in the third, then added a final score with a meaningless touchdown with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter to make the final score 42-14.
With the victory, Shiner improves to 7-3, 3-0 in district. The Cardinals have a bye this week, and will learn who they play in the playoffs as they try to defend their state championship.