ROSETO - In a shootout in which two teams' offenses appeared to be no match for the others' defense, missed opportunities cost the Marian Colts an chance to get its record at the even point in game four of the high school football season here on Saturday afternoon.
Unable to stop a potent Pius X Royals' offense that compiled 499 yards, the Colts dropped a 38-19 decision to fall to 1-3.
"We knew they were going to throw, they make no bones about it," said Marian Coach Stan Dakosty. "We came into the game with a couple of our secondary people banged up (Mike Stauffer and Jamie Ramer), and in a game like this, you have to have a secondary that is at full strength." The Colts lost Pat Leitzel, their senior QB and another secondary member as well, as he suffered a shoulder injury in the tilt.
Royal QB Anthony Casciano was just splendid in the outing, passing for 397 yards and four TDs in a 23-for-32 performance that the Marian defense, quite frankly, had no answer for. But when push came to shove in a game that was still close in the third period, stops by the Pius defense, or Marian's inability to keep pace offensively, spelled doom for the Colts.
Pius led 25-19 at the break, as both teams showed great offensive prowess, the Royals gaining 232 yards via the airwaves and 32 more on the ground. Its 262 yards was enough to put the hosts just a little ahead of the Colts, who parleyed 109 yards rushing with 91 yards in the air, but with one less TD on the board.
That back-and-forth contest changed in the next 12 minutes, as Pius capitalized on opportunities and the Colts did not.
When the Royals took the second half kickoff, Marian immediately had chance No. 1. Jordan Weber's pickoff gave the Colts the pigskin at their own 48, and a 40-yard run by Paul Martin (19-86) gave Marian a first down at the Pius 12. It got no closer in four downs.
The Royals responded, going 88 yards on 10 plays for a TD, which came on a 12-yard run by Casciano with 6:32 left in the period and gave the hosts a 31-19 lead.
The Colts got a nifty kickoff return from Justin Huegel, who went 33 yards to the Pius 42 with the ensuing boot. Then Jake Lyons bolted 24 yards to the hosts' 34, and the Blue and Gold appeared to be re-establishing momentum. But three plays netted just four yards, and the Colts failed to move the first down sticks at the Pius 29, swandering opportunity No. 2 of the frame.
And, as it had been all afternoon, the Pius offense was just too much for Marian. The Royals went 71 yards on seven plays for the TD. Suddenly, the Colts were down by 19 with 1:30 left in the period, and the fate of its third loss of the season was imminent.
Later in the game, after a fumble recovery by Colt Anthony Damiano, Marian pushed all the way to the Pius four yardline before running out of downs on a sack of freshman QB Corey Quick.
"We gave up too many big plays, including three or four times when we had them at third-and-15-plus," said Dakosty. "That's tough to overcome, but we could've put some pressure on the QB (Casciano). He's a great quarterback, and they have kids who go and get the ball."