DOVER — In a season already full of highlights, St. Thomas Aquinas High School coach Ryan Brown witnessed his that best half of football his team has played all year.
St. Thomas senior quarterback Shawn DeKorne engineered an explosive first half for the Saints in Saturday night’s game against Manchester West by completing 17 of 22 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns. DeKorne added a rushing touchdown in the half to complete a big night, as St. Thomas went onto complete a 35-6 victory over the Blue Knights in Division II action.
“The kids came out in the first half and played great; that’s the best first half we played all year,” Brown said. “I thought their running attack would give us trouble, but our defense did great. Our offense made plays like they’ve had all year.”
While the defense for St. Thomas (6-1) forced three turnovers and limited West (2-5) to 112 yards on the night, DeKorne immediately set the tone in the opening drive by completing all three of his passes for 61 yards. DeKorne connected on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Edwin Estevez to give St. Thomas a 6-0 lead nearly two minutes into the game.
After St. Thomas stopped West on fourth down on the ensuing possession, DeKorne immediately connected with Kevin Zheng for a 35-yard touchdown pass. A West fumble on the next possession was followed by a 20-yard completion from DeKorne to Will MacLean (six catches, 88 yards) and a 6-yard scoring pass to Estevez to give St. Thomas a 19-0 lead, with 4:52 left in the first quarter.
“The first half we executed,” DeKorne said. “The lineman did great — as usual — with great protection, and the receivers caught every ball. That’s all I can ask for.”
DeKorne’s lone blemish on the night was a fumble at West’s 1 early in the second quarter, but it immediately turned into a positive for the Saints on the next play when Evan Briggs smothered Jaymeson Maheux in the end zone for a safety.
St. Thomas followed that by marching 47 yards on seven plays, which was keyed by a 19-yard completion from DeKorne to MacLean. DeKorne capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Saints a 28-0 lead with 8:25 left in the second quarter.
“Our receivers were on point all night; it turned out great,” MacLean said.
DeKorne completed five passes for 37 yards during an 11-play drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jack Benelli to give St. Thomas a 35-0 lead with 1:57 left in the first half. DeKorne didn’t attempt a pass in the one series he played in the second half, and he now has 1,605 passing yards with 14 touchdown passes on the season.
“Shawn was doing what Shawn has been doing all year,” Brown said “We’re really starting to click and finding some big plays in the passing game. We were just able to sling it around tonight, and hopefully we’ll keep doing that.”
St. Thomas is tied atop the Division II South standings with Alvirne (6-1) with two games left in the regular season. The Saints host Pelham (4-3) next Saturday, followed by visit to Hollis-Brookline (4-3).
“We played hard, made tackles, executed as a team and did what we had to do,” Estevez said.
SAINTS 35, BLUE KNIGHTS 6
West 0 0 0 6—6
St. Thomas 19 16 0 0—35
STA—Estevez 24 pass from DeKorne (kick failed), 10:13.
STA—Zheng 35 pass from DeKorne (pass failed), 5:50.
STA—Estevez 6 pass from DeKorne (Devost kick), 4:52.
STA—Briggs tackle in end zone for safety, 11:40.
STA—DeKorne 4 run (Devost kick), 8:25.
STA—Benelli 3 pass from DeKorne (Devost kick), 1:57.
West—Maheux 13 run (run failed), 4:33.
RUSHING—West, Maheux 25-76, Burpee 9-17, Harris 3-11, St. Felix 2-5, Casey 1-3. St. Thomas, Lassard 12-46, Estevez 2-18, Sandoval Rojas 2-18, DeKorne 6-6, Haberger 2-1, Blomstrom 2-1.
PASSING—West, Mahuex 0-4-0. St. Thomas, DeKorne 17-22-225 (4 TDs), Paquette 1-1-(minus-4).
RECEIVING— St. Thomas, MacLean 6-88, Zheng 3-65, Estevez 6-63, Benelli 2-9, Moynihan 1-(minus-4).