In losing, 15-6, to No. 3 Poly yesterday, Mount St. Joseph disproved the old adage that defense wins football games.
The host Gaels got fine efforts from linebacker Dominic Steward and lineman Dave Sunderland, who helped hold Poly's big-play running back, Sekou Selli, to 49 yards on 16 carries.
Steward had one of the Gaels' two sacks of Mike Forstner, and both he and Sunderland had key fumble recoveries.
But the Gaels' offense couldn't do their part, sputtering three times deep in Poly territory. On their opening possession, after taking the ball 55 yards to the Poly 14, the Gaels' Aaron Williams dropped a dump pass from Buddy Edmond at the 5 on fourth down.
Steward recovered a fumbled snap at the Poly 25 later in the first period, but the Gaels (3-4, 2-3 in the Maryland Scholastic Association) lost ground and had to punt on fourth-and-17.
5l Another Gaels drive stalled at the Poly 35 early in the second quarter, when a delay-of-game penalty turned a fourth-and-one into a fourth-and-six.
The Engineers (4-1 MSA) scored the first touchdown on a 36-yard screen pass from Forstner to Jawhar Ray with five minutes left in the first half.
Khary Tucker's extra point gave the Engineers a 7-0 lead at the half.
"We wanted to move the ball on them, and that first drive showed that we could do it," said Mount St. Joseph coach Tim Perry. "But we just had some missed opportunities. We just have to come out and be prepared to play, that's the bottom line."
Forstner made the Gaels pay for the last failure, spotting Ray on his left to cap an eight-play, 65-yard drive. Ray sidestepped cornerback Mike Frazier before racing untouched into the end zone.
"It was just a simple screen pass to the wide side and Jawhar just made a good move," said Forstner, who completed two of three passes to Ray for 117 yards. "That was a confidence booster because I've been having trouble throwing the ball lately. It showed me I could still do the job."
The Gaels limited Selli to two of the Engineers' 18 yards rushing in the first half, but Selli caught them napping in the third period.
In a march that covered 71 yards in seven plays, capped by Ian Clayton's 4-yard touchdown run, Selli rushed six times for 56 yards -- mostly on misdirection plays.
Forstner's conversion pass to Ray gave the Engineers a 15-0 lead with 7:56 left in the period.
"That was a patented Poly drive," said Perry. "We just came out flat at halftime."
The Gaels scored with 11:55 left in the game, after Edmond (four for 10, 31 yards) found Ray Allen (three receptions, 23 yards) with an 8-yard touchdown pass. Edmond's conversion run failed.
The drive, which began in the third period, covered seven plays and was set up by Sunderland's recovery of a fumble at the Engineers' 21.
Edmond had been flushed from the pocket most of the afternoon. He was sacked five times for minus 39 yards, with one each going to linebackers Bryant Jeffers, Shanker Dempsey and Cleaven Williams.
Linemen Clarence Logan and Joseph Brown were equally aggressive on the pass rush, with Logan also recording a sack and Brown recovering a fumble.
"We've got some people banged up," said Poly coach Augie Waibel. "Because of that, No. 72 [Brown] had to play both ways and that took something away from our offense."
The Gaels were also missing a huge chunk of their offense.
Running back Eddie Pailen entered the game with 561 rushing yards and six touchdowns. But after rushing just six times for 20 yards in the first half, he remained on the sideline, icing down a nagging ankle injury.