Mount St. Joseph turned three Annapolis fumbles and an interception into three second-half touchdowns to post a 26-6 upset victory at No. 9 Annapolis (2-1) last night.
The No. 15 Gaels (3-0) broke open a 6-6 game in the second half with two touchdowns in the third and another in the final period.
Running back Je'Von Norris (17 for 85 rushing) scored the go-ahead touchdown from 5 yards out with 4:05 left in the third period and sophomore quarterback Lucas Phillips raced in from 21 yards away with 2:07 in the third to make it 19-6.
Archie Wannamaker's second touchdown, a 9-yard burst late in the final period iced it.
"After our first few two-a-days backs in August, I felt we could be a pretty good team," said Mount St. Joe first-year coach Mike Working.
Mount St. Joe was 3-7 last year, including a 6-0 loss to Annapolis. Last night's win was the first ever over Annapolis.
"Every coach thinks his team is going to win every game, of course, but these kids are getting better each time out," said Working.
"They have a lot of camaraderie and they like to have fun. We knew Annapolis was ahead of us in the polls and knew it would be a big test."
Phillips and Norris passed with flying colors as did the Gaels' defense led by linebacker Larry Bell, who delivered several ferocious hits.
Phillips was 7-for-18 passing for 144 yards. He hit only two of five passes for 59 yards in the second half, but the first completion was one of the game's biggest plays.
It was a somewhat controversial 38-yard bomb to Dan Rosewag at the Annapolis 12 to set up the go-ahead touchdown by Norris. Phillips lofted a perfect spiral down the middle on a second-and-nine situation at midfield and a diving Rosewag caught it in mid-air, hit the ground with the ball squirting out.
The official on top of the play ruled it a catch. Norris carried twice the rest of the way to put the Gaels up to stay at 12-6.
Another Annapolis fumble gave the Gaels the ball at the Panther 40 and Phillips went to work, hitting Matt O'Donnell with a 21-yard gain to the 19. On second and 12 from the 21, Phillips faked the option left to Norris, reversed his field and outran everybody, diving into the right corner of the end zone to make it 19-6.
"Those two [Phillips and Norris] make things happen, and I think Phillips has as much field awareness as anybody I've coached and he's only a sophomore," said Working.
Later with the Panthers on the move and trying to get back in the game, an interception by O'Donnell stopped them at the St. Joe 24. That interception and a fumble recovery by Kenny Hunter with 7:40 to go prevented an Annapolis comeback.
Hunter stripped Panther quarterback Orlando Downs at the 35 and subsequently Wannamaker scored the game-clinching touchdown with 2:45 left. The Gaels ran out the clock.
Each team scored and botched the extra-point kick in the first half with the Panthers getting the initial score in the first period on a fourth-and-10 pass at the 13.
Downs hit Roland Fowlkes with the scoring pass, but the extra-point kick by Dan Edwards was short with five minutes left in the first period.