Another week, another win for Brother Martin.
The Crusaders remained undefeated on the season Friday night with a fairly convincing 27-7 victory over Catholic League foe St. Augustine at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
The Brother Martin starting defense put together yet another virtuoso performance holding its opponent to 10 points or fewer for the fifth straight game. If that wasn’t enough, the unit put another notch in its belt forcing a season-high six turnovers on the night.
“What our defense did tonight is pretty remarkable,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “To hold that team to seven points with the athletes they have says a lot about our defense’s level of preparation.”
A week-by-week approach has been the staunch philosophy for the Crusaders (5-0, 2-0), and it paid off in the last two quarters of what was a 7-7 game at halftime against the Purple Knights (3-2, 0-2).
A total of five of Brother Martin’s six takeaways came in the second half leading to 17 points, the first of which came after an 18-yard interception return by senior linebacker Luke Schexnaildre down to St. Augustine’s 15.
The Crusaders needed just three plays from there which were all runs by junior running back Jaylon Spears, who powered his way in from three yards out for a 17-7 lead with 6:33 left in the third. Jack Landry scored Brother Martin’s first points of the half with a 32-yard field goal on the opening possession of the second half.
Spears was the staple of the Crusaders’ offensive attack rushing for 147 yards on a heavy workload of 29 carries, 18 of which came in the first half. He also had three catches for 39 more yards, and understandably exited the game with cramps with just under 10 minutes left.
“I was tired but I had ‘(Pea)Nut’ (Davonn Moore) as my backup and I did my thing and he did his thing,” said Spears, who’s season-high in carries was due to the absence of senior running back Chris Smith, due to a collarbone injury.
“That’s my brother,” Spears said of Smith, who had just three carries, all of which came right after Spears’ injury. “He told me to play better even though he wasn’t playing and this game was for him.”
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound bruiser took his last carry nine yards for a first down on 4th-and-1 down to the 3-yard line, which was the 11th play of a 15-play, 60-yard scoring drive. The possession was set up by a fumble recovery by junior linebacker Noah Chachere, but St. Augustine held firm with a goal line stand forcing an 18-yard field goal by Jack Landry for a 20-7 advantage with 7:26 left in the game.
That left the Purple Knights with just enough time to mount a comeback if they could quickly put points on the board, but Schexnaildre forced quarterback Kendell Sampson Jr. out of bounds on fourth down short of the marker at Brother Martin’s 33-yard line.
The Crusaders were then forced to punt on their next drive, but the defense put the game away when Davonn Moore took an interception back 45 yards for a 27-7 lead with 3:26 to play.
“The receiver ran a post and I saw the running back (running a rail),” said Moore, who also had 11 carries for 36 yards sliding into the role of backup running back. “They do that a lot and we do that at practice a lot, and I was just there to make the pick and take it for six.”
“When you look at Davonn Moore and the things that he’s done, he amazes me,” said Bonis, who couldn’t have been complimentary of Moore both on and off the field.
“He’s in all phases of the game — special teams (return man), defense (starting cornerback) and offense (backup running back/receiver). I know people say he’s shorter, but his production on the field speaks for itself. I hope colleges on the next level are recognizing that, because he’s a stud.”
Moore and the rest of the Brother Martin defense added two more turnovers on St. Augustine’s last two possessions. Freshman defensive lineman Brenden Leblanc recovered a fumble and Georgia Tech defensive back commitment Nicholas Turner intercepted a pass on the last play of the game.
The Crusader defense also set the offense up for the first points of the game when senior defensive back Jaiden Watson returned an interception 39 yards to St. Augustine’s 29-yard line.
Brother Martin then ran Spears five straight times before Garrett Mmahat hit the tailback with a shovel pass for a 14-yard touchdown a 7-0 advantage with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter.
St. Augustine responded a couple of possessions later with an 11-play, 83-yard drive that was sparked by a 20-yard pickup by punter Jaron Marks III after a bobbled snap. The Purple Knights capitalized on the extra opportunity when Sampson Jr. hit August Banks Jr. with a 30-yard pass tying the score at 7-7 with 10:07 left until intermission.
It was St. Augustine’s longest offensive play of the day by 13 yards as they struggled to reach last week’s level of success against John Curtis. After putting up 349 yards of offense with just one turnover last week, the Purple Knights managed just 282 yards with six turnovers Friday night against the Crusaders.
“We’ve just got to be able to maintain a certain level of play,” St. Augustine coach Nathaniel Jones said. “We didn’t look like the same team we looked like last week to this week. The consistency has to be there.
“At the end of the day, our hat goes off to Brother Martin,” Jones added. “They played harder, they played smarter, they played better than us all the way around.”
St. Augustine: 282 yards of total offense (75 rushing, 207 passing)
Brother Martin: 266 yards of total offense (218 rushing, 48 passing)
Rushing: Jaron Marks III, 1-20; Kendell Sampson Jr., 11-18; Albert Quest V, 4-18; Justin Doyle, 6-13; Mahmood Bailey, 4-6.
Receiving: Tylie Keasley, 5-73; Khi Mathieu, 4-36; August Banks Jr., 2-30, 1 TD; Josh White, 3-28; Albert Quest V, 2-18; Justin Doyle, 1-12; Mahmood Bailey, 1-4; Carl Singleton Jr., 1-3; Javen Nicholas, 1-3.
Passing: Kendell Sampson Jr., 20-36, 207 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs.
Rushing: Jaylon Spears, 29-147, 1 TD; Davonn Moore, 11-36; Joe Delaney, 1-15; Garrett Mmahat, 2-8; Torey Lambert, 3-6; Isaiah Torregano, 1-5; Chris Smith, 3-1.
Receiving: Jaylon Spears, 3-39, 1 TD; Joe Delaney, 1-9.
Passing: Garrett Mmahat, 4-12, 48 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
Brother Martin — Jaylon Spears 14 pass from Garrett Mmahat (Jack Landry kick), 5:13, 0-7.
St. Augustine — August Banks Jr. 30 pass from Kendell Sampson Jr. (Jaron Marks III kick), 10:07, 7-7.
Brother Martin — Landry 32 field goal, 9:02, 7-10.
Brother Martin — Spears 3 run (Landry kick), 6:33, 7-17.
Brother Martin — Landry 18 field goal, 7:26, 7-20.
Brother Martin — Davonn Moore 45 interception return (Landry kick), 3:22, 7-27.
NEXT UP: Both Brother Martin and St. Augustine will be back in action on Saturday. The Crusaders will be on the road at Joe Yenni Stadium taking on Rummel at 2 p.m. while St. Augustine will be the road team against Jesuit at Tad Gormley Stadium at 6 p.m.