Flyers’ defense, fullback too much for Senecas
St. Paul’s Caizzo rushes for more than 200 yards, TD
Technically, Norwalk St. Paul fullback Cam Caizzo was not unstoppable Saturday.
The senior only scored one touchdown.
But the bruising senior was relentless against Calvert.
Three yards here, five yards there, nine yards there.
Over and over again.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Flyer carried the ball 40 times in St. Paul’s 21-0 win over the Senecas at Frost-Kalnow Stadium. Only once did a rush go for more than nine yards — that came on a 24-yard sprint in the first half. But Caizzo never lost yardage either. And by the time the game was over, he had accumulated 202 of the Flyers’ 315 yards of offense.
And while St. Paul’s offensive line was stout Saturday, Caizzo appeared to do much of the damage himself, frequently shrugging off would-be Calvert tacklers and powering forward for more real estate.
“His yards after contact,” St. Paul coach John Livengood said, then paused. “The line and the other backs give him a lot to work with, but once he got to the second level, I thought he did a great job breaking tackles and gaining those yards after contact.”
Calvert coach Steve Reser said Caizzo made things tough on his team.
“Cam did a great job; 44 (his number) is a heck of a runner,” he said.
St. Paul improved to 3-0 — it hasn’t allowed a point this season — and avenged last year’s 33-14 loss to the Senecas in Norwalk. That loss snapped a 29-game regular season winning streak by the Flyers.
But St. Paul hasn’t lost a regular season game since. And Saturday’s win gave it 10 consecutive regular-season victories.
The game originally was scheduled for the night before, but frequent lightning postponed it and set up a 3 p.m. Saturday start. Calvert lost for the second-straight week, and fell to 1-2. It hosts Gibsonburg — at Heidelberg — Friday in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division opener for both teams.
As for Saturday’s game, the running game allowed the Flyers to control things. In the first half alone, the Flyers ran 38 offensive plays, 16 more than the Senecas. For the game, Sr. Paul ran 72 offensive snaps to Calvert’s 41.
“One of those things, the first half, (the Flyers) are playing offense very effectively,” Reser said. “But what our guys got to understand is, they’re playing defense through their offense as well. They had that ball in the first half… I don’t know the stats, but out of 24 minutes of play, it seemed like they had it for 20 of them.”
Calvert’s best chance to get on the scoreboard came on its first drive. It forced the Flyers into a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, then moved to the St. Paul 33 on a 14-yard completion from quarterback Jack Shultz to Mitch Nielsen.
But that’s essentially where the drive stalled. Facing a fourth-and-9 from the 32, Reser — through he said afterward he considered going for it — opted to have Aaron Rombach punt the ball.
It went for a touchback.
The Flyers took over and marched 80 yards in 14 plays, chewing up more than five minutes of the clock.
Still, it appeared the Senecas may avoid damage when a holding call moved the Flyers back from the Calvert 9 to the 26, and created a third-and-21.
That’s when the run-heavy Flyers went ariel.
St. Paul quarterback Myron Stoll completed only three passes all day, and only attempted six. But he lofted a perfect throw to Lars Livengood in the end zone.
The Flyers led 7-0 with with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
“We were fighting ourselves a little bit with penalties,” coach Livengood said. “That was one of those opportunities where we were able to overcome it.”
After the teams exchanged punts, St. Paul — and Caizzo — started rolling again. On a 12-play, 55-yard second-quarter march, the fullback carried the ball nine times for 49 yards. It helped push the Flyers to the Calvert 5.
Then Justin Butler finished the drive, rolling into the end zone with 32 seconds remaining until the half.
“We knew coming in that two big keys to the game were tackle (Caizzo), tackle (Butler),” Reser said. “Probably should have been a little more clear on that, just had to tackle them a little sooner.”
Butler finished with 14 carries for 65 yards.
Trailing 14-0, Calvert got the ball to start the third quarter, but quickly faced a fourth and 2 from its 34.
The Senecas lined up for a punt, but snapped the ball to Nielsen, the up-back.
He gained a yard. The ball went over to St. Paul.
What followed was more Caizzo, and this time he got to finish. On a third and 5 from the 8, he fought his way into the end zone, and St. Paul went up by three scores.
That was it for the scoring. It was another frustrating game for the Calvert offense, which hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1 at Monroeville.
Rombach paced the Calvert offense, running 12 times for 63 yards. Shultz struggled, going 7 of 16 passing for 31 yards. He was intercepted in the third quarter by Livengood.
The Senecas were limited to 81 yards of offense.
It was the first time the Senecas have been shut out since a 10-0 loss to Oak Harbor almost exactly two years ago.
“Our defense was great today, and they’ve been great all season,” coach Livengood said. “That’s three consecutive shutouts. And what gets lost in it is, Calvert’s a great defense. That’s a great football team, and it’s a great win for us.”
Calvert’s defense did force — and recover — a pair of fumbles. But it suffered its second-straight loss and now has the 3-0 Golden Bears coming to town.
“There’s one thing I know,” Reser said. “This will get corrected.”