Ladue's defense takes center stage in decisive win over Clayton

Ladue's defense takes center stage in decisive win over Clayton

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CLAYTON • Ladue has a knack of turning takeaways into scores, and they come in bunches.

Ladue forced four first half turnovers and converted them into 28 points as the Rams cruised to a 63-7 win over Clayton on Friday to stay unbeaten.

Andrew Hunt scored two first-half touchdowns on the ground while Dale Chesson scored once as a receiver, once as a rusher, and once on an 80-yard interception return as Ladue (5-0) opened up a 42-0 lead heading into halftime.

“I do think that was a huge key in the game, getting those early turnovers,” said Ladue coach Mike Tarpey, who notched his 100th career victory. “The defense is our strength; they play with the right energy and they want to create turnovers.”

The Rams have now forced 17 turnovers in their first five games, and have outscored their opponents 203-27.

In the first quarter, Brian Faulkner met Clayton running back Jalen Williams in the backfield, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Callen Morley at the Clayton 16-yard line. Three plays later, Andrew Hunt powered in for the first of his two rushing touchdowns.

“Offensively, it took a little time to settle down, but once we got rolling, we started to perform like I knew we would,” Hunt said.

On the next Greyhounds’ possession, Mason Player picked off a pass and returned it to the Clayton 33. This time wide receiver Dale Chesson scored on an end-around from 2 yards away. It was Chesson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the year on just his fifth carry.

“When we go in the red zone, and they call the play for the end-around, I’m just so eager and so determined to follow my blocks and get in the end zone,” Chesson said.

Clayton (4-1) mounted a drive to start the second quarter. Tyler Sucher hit on passes to Reese Barnett of 14 yards and to Henry Keil for 23, but when Keil tried to split two defenders, he lost the ball, and the Rams recovered.

Hunt capitalized from 8 yards out again to push the lead to 21-0.

Both Chesson and Player caught touchdown passes from Henry McIntosh later in the second quarter. On the final play of the half, Chesson stepped in front of a pass from Clayton’s Tyler Sucher and returned it down the right sideline for an 80-yard score.

“I was guarding my receiver, and I just twisted my hips and played the ball,” Chesson said.

Hunt had his turn at a defensive score, picking off a Tyler Sucher pass and racing 44 yards for a touchdown.

“We do a lot of drills working on stripping the ball and getting interceptions with tip drills,” Hunt said. “A lot of the turnovers come from our depth. We have guys that can all rotate in and it feels like we’re always fresh and always a step ahead of the offense.”

Ladue quarterback Henry McIntosh completed 16 of 25 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Marzion Cosby returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown in the fourth to set the final score.

For Tarpey, 100 wins has not been a one-man show.

“We’re a ‘we’ organization. Our staff has done an awesome job,” he said. “I think the biggest difference in our program over the last few years is that kids are holding each other accountable, and that’s really satisfying.”

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