FESTUS – Whenever the St. Pius X football team needed it, quarterback Carson Fischer seemed to have an answer.
The senior made plays with his arm and his legs to lead the Lancers to a 29-16 win over Jefferson R-7 in a Class 2 District 1 first-round game at St. Pius on Friday night.
St. Pius (8-2) will travel to Caruthersville next week.
Fischer started to leave his mark late in the first half.
St. Pius appeared to leave points on the board after a holding call nullified a 20-yard touchdown run by Fischer. But two plays later, with no time on the clock, Fischer heaved it to the end zone where Riley Naeger made a juggling catch to give the Lancers a 21-0 lead at halftime.
“I liked the momentum boost,” Fischer said. “I felt like after that play we were trying to put them down. We were throwing a lot of passes and we finally got one.”
Colby Ott’s 45-yard touchdown run down the right sideline gave Jefferson (4-6) some life early in the fourth quarter. Dylan Duncan ran in the two-point try to cut the St. Pius lead to 21-8.
But the Lancers answered with a back-breaking 65-yard, 11-play drive that ate up almost six minutes. Fischer’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone capped the march that gave St. Pius a 29-8 lead midway through the fourth.
“We were able to run,” Fischer said. “They knew we were running and we just went over them and kept running and running and our linemen did great.”
Dylan Schnitzler caught a late touchdown pass for Jefferson, but it was too little too late as the Blue Jays fell to the Lancers for the second time this season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and we didn’t get into a good flow,” St. Pius coach Dan Oliver said. “Sometimes we did. Sometimes we didn’t. It was kind of a weird night.”
St. Pius received big plays from all three phases to control the first quarter.
A pooch punt and excellent coverage by the Lancers’ special teams pushed Jefferson back to their 1-yard-line on their first possession. On the next play, Blue Jays quarterback Drew Breeze got tripped up by one of his offensive linemen, causing him to fall in the end zone to give the Lancers a safety.
Fischer then kick-started the St. Pius offense by finding Nate Ruble, who tipped it to himself for a 31-yard catch. Two plays later, Fischer scored on a 5-yard run to push the Lancers lead to 9-0 with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
Jefferson’s offense answered with a 79-yard, 12-play drive down to the St. Pius 1. But Breeze was stripped running for the goal line and Michael Vonder Haar jumped on the ball for the Lancers.
A bad snap on a Jefferson punt attempt early in the second quarter gave St. Pius the ball in Blue Jays territory. Ruble cashed in three plays later with a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Lancers a 15-0 lead with 9:20 left.
“Our defense has been great all year and we had a couple of picks and some good returns there,” Oliver said. “And our offense, there were times when we were throwing it, stuck one on the board right before halftime and then came out after half and they were cold as ice. Kind of the ebb and the flow and they made some adjustments and we made some adjustments.”
Penalties hurt Jefferson in the first half. The Blue Jays were flagged nine times for 100 total yards, including five 15-yard infractions.
Jefferson’s Will Breeze suffered an apparent head or neck injury on the kickoff right after Ruble’s touchdown run in the second quarter. The game was halted for over 20 minutes as Breeze was immobilized and taken off by ambulance.
It was announced in the game’s final moments that he was taken to Children’s Hospital.
St. Pius tied the school record for wins in a season, which it also set last year. The hope is to break it with a trip deep into the bootheel next week.
“Hopefully we can go out and get No. 9 next week and have it all by ourselves,” Oliver said. “It’s something to shot for.”