Defense carries STAB in win over St. Christopher’s

CHARLOTTESVILLE — St. Anne’s-Belfield’s defense kept bending and bending, but never broke in its 13-7 win over St. Christopher’s (4-1). In a game that featured 447 total rushing yards between the two teams, both defenses had a knack for stopping the other rushing attack when it counted the most.

“Our defense is amazing, that’s pretty much it,” said STAB coach John Blake. “Those goal-line stands we had? Amazing — I can’t say much more. We stopped [St. Chris’s] playmakers when it counted the most. There’s plenty to improve, but also plenty to take pride in.”

After the two teams traded touchdowns — St. Christopher’s from junior dual-threat quarterback Rob Vozenilek and STAB’s from junior star tailback Branford Rogers —  in the first quarter, both offenses struggled to score points.

The Saints, in particular, featured a prolific running attack that tallied 257 yards but sputtered in the red zone. Vozenilek rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and threw three completions for 54 yards on 10 passing attempts, while St. Christopher’s also featured two other rushers with over 65 yards.

“Our offense was able to move the ball. I was generally contained in the pocket, but our timing throwing the ball was off. We just have to execute better,” Vozenilek said.

For STAB (5-0), the offense, as expected revolved around Branford Rogers. Rogers carried the ball 23 times for 142 yards and his team’s first touchdown. More importantly, though, he willed his teams to first downs when his team needed them the most.

After STAB scored the game-winning touchdown seven minutes into the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown reception from senior tight end Lawrance Brayman, the team’s next possession began four minutes into the fourth quarter. With Rogers leading the way, STAB was able to milk precious time off the clock and leave St. Christopher’s in a difficult position to respond.

“I just ran like I normally would today. All the credit goes to our O-line because they make some big holes I could run though. It was our defense that made this game though,” Rogers said.

Ultimately, Rogers proved right in his assertion. In the fourth quarter alone, STAB’s defense made a goal line stand inside their own five-yard line and stopped two fourth-down conversion attempts from St. Christopher’s.

“Our defense definitely stepped up when it counted the most. We knew that they had [Volzenilek], so we did our best to contain him in the pocket. At times, I would be the spy on him, and we were effective,” senior linebacker Brandon Spitzer said. “We faced a team in a higher division than us… so we know we can go against teams in our division too.”

Despite the Saints’ inability to convert on fourth downs in the most crucial moments, St. Christopher’s coach Michael Turner was optimistic about his team’s performance.

“It’s a disappointing result, sure. But I saw a lot of good things today. My players are great in that they always individually look for ways each can do better, and they’ll do that after tonight,” Turner said. “[Not converting] the fourth-downs hurt, but [STAB’s] defense is very good.”

STAB’s defense will need to continue its stellar play next Saturday when it hosts the ever-tough Boy’s Latin School (MD).

St. Christopher’s, on the other hand, returns home to Richmond when it hosts FUMA.