EDWARDSBURG — St. Joseph moved the ball into Edwardsburg territory on its first drive in Saturday’s Division 3 district football game before being forced to punt.
The Eddies’ first offensive play was an 87-yard touchdown run by Dillon Hursh.
The rest of the game was more of the same — St. Joseph moving the ball but failing to turn it into points, and Edwardsburg scoring with ease on its way to a 42-8 victory.
“We just couldn’t really get anything going offensively,” St. Joseph coach Andrew Pratley said. “We moved the ball and did some things, but just couldn’t finish. It’s unfortunate, our defense, just a couple big plays early... it’s just one of those games that got away from us early.”
Edwardsburg (10-0), last year’s Division 4 state champion, had 480 yards rushing on the game. Hursh led the way with 10 carries for 203 yards, and Mac Gaideski added 105 yards and eight attempts. Both players scored two touchdowns.
Edwardsburg coach Kevin Bartz said the Eddies found St. Joseph (6-4) difficult to run against in a preseason scrimmage.
“They made the mistake of making a comment that when we scrimmaged them, we couldn’t even pick up a first down on them,” Bartz said. “That wasn’t a good idea.
“They’re big and physical up front defensively, so when we did scrimmage, we had a little trouble moving the ball. I thought all our kids got off the ball so much better (Friday). I thought our line was just dominant up front.”
St. Joseph gained 257 yards of offense and reached Edwardsburg territory five times, but didn’t score until its last possession on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Troy Pratley to Briggs Mosher.
The Bears had two turnovers in the first half. An interception by the Eddies’ Drew Bidwell led to a 34-yard touchdown run by Gaideski that made it 20-0, and a fumble by Pratley on a sack late in the second quarter preserved that score at halftime.
“It’s a great football team we played, and obviously you can’t make mistakes and beat a good team,” coach Pratley said.
Hursh added a 70-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second half to make it 28-0. The Eddies completed just one pass, but it was a 17-yard touchdown from Connor Nelson to Bidwell on a fourth-and-goal that made it 34-0 in the third.
Troy Pratley, playing for the first time in more than a month after an injury, finished 12-for-25 passing for 167 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Jeremiah Sterling led the St. Joseph running game with 14 carries for 39 yards.
“They’ve got athletes,” said Bartz, whose defensive coordinator is former St. Joseph coach Gandalf Church. “We had a few bends here. They’d pick up a scramble or they’d pick up a nice pass in the flat, but we never gave them the big play which was the key. We didn’t feel like they could march down the field consistently on us. We felt like our defensive line was better than their offensive line.”
The Bears got off to a 6-0 start, but dropped four straight to close Pratley’s first season as coach.
“It’s a great group of kids and I’m very proud to be their coach,” Pratley said. “Obviously we didn’t finish the way we would like, but I’m proud of the season that they had. Six wins and a playoff berth is nothing to shake your head at. We’re going to get after it in the offseason and try to improve on that and make a run next year.”
Edwardsburg 42, St. Joseph 8
St. Joseph 0 0 0 8 — 8
Edwardsburg 6 14 14 8 — 42
E — Dillon Hursh 87 run (run failed), 5:12.
E — Mac Gaideski 14 run (run failed), 11:22.
E — Gaideski 34 run (Hursh run), 6:42.
E — Hursh 70 run (Connor Nelson run), 10:39.
E — Drew Bidwell 17 pass from Nelson (run failed), 1:35.
E — Jackson Hoover 42 run (Cody Harman run), 5:10.
SJ — Briggs Mosher 13 pass from Troy Pratley (Jeremiah Sterling run), 2:09.
First downs 15 18
Total net yards 257 497
Rushes-yards 41-90 44-480
Passing yards 167 17
Comp-att-int 12-25-1 1-2-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-70 4-30
Punts-avg. 4-34.0 0-0
Rushing — St. Joseph: Sterling 14-39, Drake Collins 5-25, Pratley 20-21. Edwardsburg: Hursh 10-203, Gaideski 8-105, Hoover 5-78, Bidwell 10-66.
Passing — St. Joseph: Pratley 12-25-1 167. Edwardsburg: Nelson 1-2-0 17.
Receiving — St. Joseph: Christian Myers 5-68, Griffin Shinrock 4-61, Luke Hedstrom 1-16, Mosher 1-13, Nick Borre 1-9. Edwardsburg: Bidwell 1-17.
Records — St. Joseph 6-4, Edwardsburg 10-0.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSander