FREMONT - It was the biggest play of the biggest game of the season to this point for Carey and Fremont St. Joe. Carey coach Todd Worst needed just four words to sum it up.
"They had good coverage," he said.
Worst's Blue Devils had rallied from 14 points down to get within a two-point conversion of tying the Streaks late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Matt Holsinger rolled out to pass and couldn't find an open receiver. He tucked it under and despite his best efforts, was held short of the goal line.
St. Joe tacked on another touchdown and stopped Carey's final drive for a 27-19 win.
With the win, St. Joe stays atop the Midland Athletic League standings, tied with Calvert at 2-0 in the league, while Carey suffered its first conference loss.
"I thought the kids played excellent, didn't quit for four quarters, well hard-fought game," St. Joe coach Scott Knisely said. "It's a great victory for the kids. I enjoyed it very much. Very proud of these guys, they never quit until the end. I thought first half we came out a little bit slow on offense, but I'm really happy overall, coming out with the victory."
It wasn't as much that St. Joe came out slow, but rather Carey was a touch quicker getting in front of St. Joe passes. The Blue Devils picked off St. Joe QB Zack Yeckley three times in the opening frame. Justin Meek had two of the interceptions, the latter of which led to Carey's first points.
After taking over on St. Joe's 25, it took seven plays to reach the end zone with Levi Smalley powering in from 3 yards out for a 7-0 Carey lead early in the second quarter.
Worst however, said not converting on more of the turnovers cost his team.
"We didn't do anything with it," Worst said. "In that respect, it's great to have the interceptions, but if you're just punting them back so they could get 40 more yards of offense before you get the next pick it doesn't do any good."
Coming into the game, Carey was known as the running team, and St. Joe the passing team. But it didn't take long for the identities to get tossed out the window.
Yeckley, the MAL's leading passer known for his arm, used his legs to draw his team even shortly before the half. Yeckley ran like a hot knife through butter, breaking tackles and cutting through the Carey defense for a 61-yard scoring run.
"I saw Braxton Miller play earlier in the day. I did my best impression," Yeckley said. "I was watching him and I did my best impression. I got some guys, 'cause I'm not really a runner to be honest. ... It was good to see a nice run, that kind of busted things for us and got us started, so I was glad for it."
Coming out of the locker rooms, St. Joe's defense began to shut down the Carey rushing attack and its offense began playing like one that's racked up a league best 417 yards a game.
After holding Carey to a three-and-out, the Streaks marched 61 yards in 12 plays with Luke Stierwalt paying off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Jake Yeckley picked off Holsingler on Carey's next possession, setting the stage for a record-setting moment. Zack Yeckley connected with Jordan Sessler on a 34-yard scoring toss, his 32nd career touchdown pass, setting the all-time St. Joe record.
"Very good for him to get the record tonight," Knisely said. "He'll be the first to tell you though that he wouldn't have got that record without his wide receivers, his offensive line or anything. I'm very happy for him personally, but overall for the team even more happy we got the victory and I'm sure he's the same way."
"I'm glad it's over now," Yeckley said with former record holder Mike Lento giving him a hug. "I know Mike, we've been good friends. My dad coached him and we've been close growing up. It was nice to get it."
Carey though wasn't ready to concede the game just yet.
With their running game being contained, the Blue Devils took to the air. Holsinger had just one completion and 3 yards passing in the first half. He finished 6 for 16 passing with 114 yards.
A 15-play, 76-yard drive concluded with an Austin Tschanen 1-yard run. The extra point was blocked keeping the St. Joe lead at 21-13.
Carey got the ball back and faced a fourth-and-9 on its own 43. Holsinger found Brian Powers wide open for what turned out to be a 57-yard scoring strike to get the Blue Devils within two.
"I thought there were a couple plays earlier that we missed on," Worst said. "We got some young guys and we don't throw that often, so to actually have live game time throwing, we're a little bit inexperienced there, but Matt does a nice job and for that one, he made his reads correctly and hit the open guy."
St. Joe stopped Holsinger short on the two-point conversion to maintain its lead at 21-19, and Sessler fell on the ensuing onside kick attempt.
The Streaks drove down field and Yeckley plunged into the end zone from a yard out. But the extra point was missed, giving Carey hope.
However, the Streaks held Carey on the final drive to secure the win.
"We weren't as consistent as we needed to be," Worst said. "In order for our offense to work, we have to make sure we're blocking it correctly and make sure we're reading it correctly and everything needs to work. For the most part, I would say we were missing something somewhere on most plays, whether it was blocking from the line or blocking from the running backs or a misread here or there."