BROCKTON — After a disappointing loss a week ago at top-ranked Everett, No. 4 St. John’s Prep bounced back Friday night with a 27-12 victory over ninth-ranked Brockton at Marciano Stadium.
“We just made way too many mistakes last week,” said junior running back Johnathan Thomas. “It was disappointing. We executed tonight and didn’t last week.”
Thomas did more than just execute against the Boxers — he dominated the game. With Brockton up, 12-7, in the second quarter Thomas ran 26 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
It was the first of three TDs for Thomas, and the one that gave the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t give back.
“The offensive line was tremendous,” said Thomas who finished with 204 yards on 23 carries. “They are getting better every week, credit to them for the hard work.”
Thomas wasn’t done scoring just yet. Just as the half was winding down the tailback broke back-to-back 20-plus yard runs, the second resulting in a 24-yard TD and a 21-12 lead.
“The weather was such that we didn’t want to throw the ball around,” said Eagles coach James O’Leary, who called for one pass all game. “We had pretty good rhythm running the ball tonight.”
Neither team could hang on to the ball to start the second half. In succession, the Boxers threw an interception, then stopped the Eagles on downs. But the Boxers immediately turned it back to the Eagles on a fumble.
The Prep gave it back on the next play with a fumble but a botched handoff on the Boxers’ next play from scrimmage turned the ball over for the fifth time in as many possessions.
The final turnover of the sequence set the Eagles up on the Boxers’ side of the 50 and this time St. John’s Prep converted, with Thomas taking it 5 yards for his third score.
It wasn’t just Thomas who ran effectively. Senior Alex Moore ran for 124 yards, including a 70-yard dash for the Eagles’ first score.
The Boxers had success moving the ball in the first half, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions. But the second one was costly as quarterback Austin Roberts was hurt on a 5-yard run, getting hit from behind as he was crossing the goal line. Roberts reached for his back and collapsed before reaching the sideline. The senior was carted off on a stretcher.
“It’s hard when your leader goes down, but we pride ourselves on being tough” said Micah Morel, who took over for Roberts under center. “He’s our captain. It obviously hurt our offense, it was a huge blow to all of us.”