Previously unbeaten John Carroll came into its Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference showdown with St. Paul's averaging 41 points in each of its six wins.
After being shut out, 34-0, Friday afternoon in Brooklandville, the Patriots may have to re-think how they approach the stout Crusaders' defense should the teams meet again in the playoffs next month.
St. Paul's (6-0), which is holding opponents to an average of eight points per game this fall, only allowed John Carroll one deep drive that ultimately fizzled on the Crusaders' 5-yard line with 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
"All week, we played assignment football," said senior linebacker Travis Wood, a lacrosse defenseman committed to Johns Hopkins. "We had specific areas to take care of, and we did that. Everyone knew their role."
To make matters worse for the Patriots, St. Paul's offense was nearly as good as its defense.
The Crusaders built a 21-0 halftime advantage, overcame a sluggish third quarter and scored twice more in the final period to coast to the victory.
As usual, senior running back Dale Harris — who transferred from John Carroll three years ago — was the springboard for the Crusaders.
He scored on a 16-yard bolt up the middle and added a 1-yard plunge to cap a second-quarter drive in which he compiled 63 of the 80 yards.
The dagger, however, was a 25-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Anthony Pino to senior wideout Rob Suite just 12 seconds before halftime.
"They were just better than us tonight," John Carroll coach Rich Stichel said. "We don't have to change anything, we just have to play better."
The Crusaders did enjoy a break on the game's first series when the Patriots blocked a punt that Harris picked up and ran for a first down, keeping what turned out to be a scoring drive alive.
St. Paul's iced the game on an 80-yard shovel pass from Pino to senior Kaylon Johnson for a score and a 58-yard Harris gallop for another.
John Carroll reached the St. Paul's 2-yard line on a pass from senior quarterback Brandon Lewis to senior wideout Montell Martin as time expired, preserving the shut out.
"We were playing hard," Wood said. "It was (putting) all hats to the ball."
JC 0 0 0 0 0
SP 7 14 0 13 34
SP-Harris 16 run (Price kick)
SP-Harris 1 run (Price kick)
SP-Suite 25 pass from Pino (Price kick)
SP-Johnson 80 pass from Pino (Price kick)
SP-Harris 58 run (kick failed)