Sophomore T.J. O’Tool made an impact in his first varsity action Friday night, running for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-0 victory for St. Edmond over Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto.
Some shuffling of the backfield in practice this past week left O’Tool to see his first playing time of the year and he made the most of it.
O’Tool broke free on a nine-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and added a 78-yard TD jaunt in the third.
Vinnie Harvey scored three times and ran for 66 yards, while Michael Faiferlick added 71 on just six carries.
“To say I was pleased with O’Tool would be an understatement,” said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who won his 404th career game. “He ran hard, he ran with power, and he ran with speed; he really has it all as a tailback, and he made some great plays on defense, too.”
The Gaels (3-0 overall, 1-0 in Class 1A, District 2) jumped all over the Rams (1-2, 0-1), scoring on their first five drives of the game.
Presented a short field on each possession, St. Edmond had little trouble flexing its muscle. They ran 20 plays in the opening 24 minutes for 193 yards and five scores.
“You have to go out there and take control of the game,” Tighe said. “We’ve been in a couple of dogfights here early in the season (in wins over Bishop Garrigan and Mason City Newman), so it was nice to be able to relax a bit late in the game and get everybody some action.
“Our kicking game was vital early on because they pinned them deep and our defense made stops. That resulted in us having short fields and scoring touchdowns.”
The halftime intermission didn’t slow the Gaels down, as O’Tool scampered home on the second play from scrimmage. Of his 129 yards, 102 of them came in the final two quarters.
Landon Peed had a field-crossing 43-yard touchdown catch from Matthew Bocken to start the scoring, as the junior speedster took a short pass, broke free from a would-be tackler and sprinted past the Ram defense.
Peed also had a 46-yard punt return that set up the first Harvey score of the game.
“Landon just continues to make big plays for us on all sides of the ball,” Tighe said. “He really is a game-changer.”
St. Edmond was 5-for-8 on third-down conversions, and the defense held Maple Valley-AO to just 79 yards rushing on 34 carries.
Harvey added two sacks, while Bocken and Eric Kremer each recovered fumbles.
The Gaels, who are now 15-2 at Dodger Stadium since 2010, hit the road next Friday to face Pocahontas Area (0-3, 0-1). The Indians lost to Sioux Central last night, 35-7.