Vanek helps Sacred Heart run to win over St. Paul
HALLETTSVILLE - Sacred Heart coach Pat Henke's philosophy is simple: If you have a good horse, you ride him.
Henke was referring to halfback Jonathan Vanek who scored what proved to be the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter as Sacred Heart won the TAPPS Division III District 5 championship with a 28-21 victory over St. Paul Friday night.
The win was the seventh in a row for the Indians (7-3, 5-0) after an 0-3 start.
Vanek carried 28 times for 182 yards, scored one touchdown and threw a halfback pass for another.
Vanek's 4-yard run with 1:24 remaining the fourth quarter gave the Indians a 28-14 lead. Vanek carried 10 times in the 11-play, 53-yard drive.
"After St. Paul scored to cut the lead to one touchdown, I told the Jonathan we're going to ride him," Henke said. "That was our biggest drive of the season and our offensive line did a great job."
St. Paul scored with 41 seconds to play when quarterback Dakota Kresta hit Dylan Barton with a 48-yard touchdown pass to whittle to lead to 28-21 but Scott Stoner recovered the ensuing on-side kick and the Indians ran out the clock.
"Our kids were well-prepared," Henke said. "We kept on playing as hard as we could."
Sacred Heart controlled the clock and amassed 356 yards of total offense to St. Paul's 252 yards. The Indians ran 66 plays from scrimmage to St. Paul's 45.
Cardinals' halfback Adam Hollenbach scored two of the St. Paul touchdowns on runs of 4 and 3 yards and finished with 126 yards on 19 carries.
Quarterback Leightin Pilat got the Indians on the scoreboard in the first quarter on a 5-yard run after Vanek set up the score with a 70-yard run.
St. Paul answered when Hollenbach scored on a 5-yard run to end a 66-yard, 6-play drive. Quarterback Dakota Kresta passed to Adam Kennedy for the two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead.
The Indians used a little bit of trickery to score two second-quarter touchdowns. Vanek tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Cade Brewer. The score came after a Casey Jirkovsky fumble recovery at the Cardinals' 34. Pilat later tossed a long lateral to Jirkovsky who in turn threw to Evan Wick for 25 yards and a touchdown and the Indians led 20-8 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, St. Paul put together a 95-yard 10-play drive with Kresta completing 5-of-5 passes for 79 yards. Hollenbach scored on a 3-yard run with 6:10 remaining in the fourth period to trim the Indian lead to 21-14.
Wick had 3 catches for 55 yards to lead Indian receivers and Barton had 4 receptions for 81 yards for the Cardinals who dropped to 6-3 and 4-1.