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St. Albans gets in win column

By D.J. Williams

Coming into Friday's game, Drew Kirby and his teammates, especially the seniors, wanted nothing more than to get a win in the last game they would ever play at Crawford Field.

So when Kirby crossed the goal line in overtime on his 4-yard touchdown run, he gave his teammates a gift that they have been waiting for all year.

Kirby rushed for 130 yards and also caught a scoring pass as St. Albans won its first game of the year by defeating Ripley 20-14 on Senior Night.

"I'm so excited that we could finally pull through with a win," Kirby said with a huge smile. "I'm just glad that we have something positive going on. It seems like all year we have had to deal with negative things. Today, we were finally able to play a full game.

"This game was a must-have. We just had to reach down and get some heart to win it. I wanted to win this game more than anything.''

Kirby also scored on a 20-yard pass from Noah Reed.

Before Friday's victory, it had been a while since Kirby experienced a win. SA (1-7) came into the game on a 10-game losing streak, dating back to Oct. 7 last year when it defeated Princeton 20-6.

"I have won seven games in four years," Kirby said. "I want to win three games this year. I think we can do it because [coach] Steve Stoffel Jr. is an awesome coach. I think he is going to make SA a great program. It's exciting to play under him because he is always so positive."

A flattered Stoffel was just as high on his running back.

"Drew [Kirby] has been a horse for us all year," Stoffel said. "We rely heavily on him to carry the football. The young man stepped up to the plate and made big play after big play when we needed it. He has been doing this all year, but tonight is the night it paid off for everyone in the locker room."

As evidenced by his 25 carries on the night, Kirby was a big part of the SA offense. But it was his last two carries that brought home the win.

After Easton Berry misfired on a 33-yard field goal on fourth-and-6 on Ripley's possession to start the overtime, Kirby ripped off a 16-yard run on the first play. On the next play, Kirby scored on a 4-yard run.

"I just wanted to make sure I scored," Kirby said of his run. "We ran that first play and I got down inside the 5 [yard-line]. I got up and said 'Let's do it again.' My offensive line and Kevin [Cantley] really paved the way for me."

At the half, the score was deadlocked at 7 after Michael Cain scored on a 1-yard run for SA and Tyler Pittenger also scored on a 1-yard run for Ripley (3-5).

SA took the early lead in the second half on a Kirby 20-yard touchdown pass from Reed. But an interception on the Ripley 24 and a fumble on the Ripley 26 on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter allowed the Vikings to stay in the game.

"We have to learn to win," Stoffel said. "We put ourselves in a situation where we weren't quite sure how to handle ourselves at that point. We learned on the fly tonight. We had some guys step up and make some plays. They learned how to win again. We hope to carry that emotion with us during practice this week and through the last two games."

The Vikings eventually took advantage of the miscues, including an SA 9-yard punt that gave the Vikings the ball at their own 41-yard line with three minutes left to tie the game.

A Pittenger 26-yard run into SA territory resulted in a huge melee between the teams on the SA sideline. Four plays later, Jake Martin scored on a 4-yard run on fourth-and-3 with 57 seconds left to force overtime.

Martin led the Vikings with 78 yards passing along with 51 yards rushing and a touchdown. Pittenger contributed 71 yards rushing and a TD.

 


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