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Hall's opening kickoff return helps MICDS roll past St. Dominic

Hall's opening kickoff return helps MICDS roll past St. Dominic

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LADUE — MICDS sophomore Steven Hall's normal role on the kickoff receiving team is not a flashy one.

"Usually, I'm just blocking," he said.

Not Saturday.

Hall returned the opening kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown to kick-start the Rams to a 42-6 win over St. Dominic in the Class 4 District 3 football championship game at Ron Holtman Stadium.

MICDS (5-0) advanced to play Hannibal (8-2) in a state quarterfinal contest at 1 p.m. Saturday at Porter Stadium in Hannibal.

Hall's scintillating run was just the start of a near-perfect afternoon for the Rams, who scored touchdowns on their first three possessions on the way to a 28-6 lead at the break.

And it was Hall's special teams gem that got the ball rolling.

"That was an absolutely perfect start to the game, what more could you ask for?" MICDS coach Fred Bouchard said. "It was so well executed by everyone."

Hall serves as the up-man in a diamond-like formation. He stands about 10 yards behind deep man P.J. Behan.

St. Dominic (7-5) chose to kick the ball short away from Behan. It went right to Hall, who took it all the way down the left sideline for the score. The speedster eluded a pair of early tacklers and then followed a crushing block by Kai Tschudy to find more open space.

It was Hall's second kickoff return for a score. He did so in a 38-37 loss to Priory last season.

But this might have been the most important touchdown of his career. It set a tone that the Crusaders were unable to reverse.

"It was our way of making a statement," said MICDS junior quarterback Reagan Andrew, who ran for two scores and threw for another. "It's nice to have seven points before I'm even on the field."

St. Dominic, which lost to MICDS 56-40 on Oct. 16, was looking for a measure of revenge ever since that setback. The early TD seemed to stun the Crusaders.

"We place a lot of priority on special teams, so that was kind of deflating," St. Dominic coach Blake Markway said. "Their offense is so hard to stop, it's hard to keep pace with them. It doesn't help starting in a hole like that either."

The Crusaders marched right down and scored on a 6-yard run by Jackson Overton. But that was the extent of their offense for the afternoon. They came into the game averaging 35.1 points per game but turned up empty on their final 11 possessions.

Andrew and the offense proved to be unstoppable in the first half. He led his troops on an 8-play 63-yard march that culminated in his 2-yard sneak that pushed the lead to 14-6. The Rams rolled 80 yards in 12 plays on their next possession. Andrew snuck over from 1 yard out on third-and-goal for a 21-6 cushion.

Following a missed field goal attempt, Andrew hit Behan on a 49-yard strike up the middle to push the lead to 28-6 with 1 minute and 36 seconds left in the half.

Hall and fellow running back Shawn Putman added scoring runs in the second half. Putman finished with 159 yards rushing.

"It's always a good feeling when our offense can produce like that," Andrew said. "Everyone puts in the work and it shows."

The Rams defense was equally impressive after surrendering 516 yards and six touchdowns to St. Dominic in the first meeting.

"We bent a little (on defense), but boy did we hang on when we had to," Bouchard said.

MICDS beat Hannibal 34-21 in a quarterfinal on Nov. 17, 2018. The Rams rallied for two touchdowns in the final 45 seconds to steal that contest on the way to a second-place finish at state.

Bouchard, who played at Palmyra High, just outside of Hannibal, is looking forward to another meeting.

"Two great programs," he said. "We'll be ready."

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