Blue Streaks' eyes are smiling
|John Carroll had plenty to
celebrate in the battle of D-III Catholic schools in
Photo by Stephen McCarthy, Sportsfile.com
From the day the announcement was made almost 18 months
ago that the 2012 football season would begin in Dublin,
Ireland, this singular event of playing a game against St. Norbert
on the Emerald Isle had become a rallying point for every player
and coach in the John Carroll program.
It was a long wait, but as it turned out, well worth it.
After surrendering a field goal in the first quarter, the Blue Streaks warmed to the Irish welcome and posted 40 unanswered points for a 40-3 victory over the Green Knights Friday evening at Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin.
Mark Myers, in his John Carroll debut, threw for school record
457 yards and five touchdowns as the Blue Streaks scored
27 second quarter points in capturing their first
season-opening win since 2008.
"It feels awesome," said head coach regis Scafe after letting the moment sink in. "The guys really responded after our meeting last night ... it set the tone, talking about how big this game was, not just for our team and for our season, but for our program and our school. I am so proud of these guys."
In the first NCAA Division III regular season contest to be held outside the United States since 1992, it was St. Norbert that controlled matters early. A Randy Hill 39 yard field goal was the only scoring in the opening period that featured a John Carroll fumble, an interception and a 23-yard punt to end drives.
Having survived a rough start, the Blue Streaks began to hit their stride late in the first quarter. Myers engineered a 14-play, 97-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown plunge by DaQuan Grobsmith. In that drive, Myers was 9-11 for 102 yards.
On John Carroll's next possession, Myers found Randy Greenwood in the flat on a first-and-15 play, and Greenwood zoomed 73 yards down the field for a seonc JCU touchdown of the quarter.
The Blue Streaks scored twice in the final 1:32. After a botched punt attempt by St. Norbert, Myers needed one play to find Lane Robilotto for a 20-yard touchdown strike. When the Green Knight failed to get a first down and were forced to punt, Myers used five plays to cover 56 yards in 36 seconds, once again finding Robilotto from 20 yards away, to give the Blue Streaks a 27-3 lead at the half.
|Mike Myers' first start for
John Carroll was historic, and not just because of the game's
Photo by Stephen McCarthy, Sportsfile.com
John Carroll tacked on touchdowns in the third and fourth
quarter to seal the outcome. On both occasions, Myers found
Alex Kline -- first from 27 yards out in the third, and then
covering 57 yards in the fourth.
"I can't put this into words," said Kline. "It was the most fun i've ever had playing football. the whole thing has not fully sunk in ... having the local fans who really didn't know much about football dancing and celebrating with us afterwards really made it feel like a dream come true."
That final pass from Myers enabled him to break Tom Arth's school record for passing yards in a single game. Arth had thrown for 452 yards against Ohio Northern on October 21, 2000.
Arth happens to be Myers' quarterback coach.
"I've been off the field for about three years, so it feels real good to be back on it," said Myers. "The team really stepped it up. Our offense was awesome, and our defense was just ridiculous. It feels to great to be a Blue Streak."
As Myers correctly stated, the defense turned in one of finest performances in years. Against an offense that averaged over 400 yards and 28 points per game in 2011, the Blue Streak defense limited St. Norbert to 90 yards on 59 plays and just seven first downs.
"I still don't believe we are in Ireland, and I still don't believe that we did what we did tonight," said Jimmy King, who led the team along with Etan Jones with eight tackles. "Even though we are young, we didn't let up in the second half despite the lead. We said in the locker room to keep our feet on the gas pedal."
JCU, which did not give up a sack, had four of its own, while Marty Gibbons and Truvonte Riley each had one interception.