CAPABLE RUNNER — Brendon Misterman scored St. Francis’ lone touchdown in a 35-9 loss to Canisius. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The Canisius football team has a philosophy that starts with running the ball, and finishes with the same concept. The athletes pounded the ball, scoring four rushing touchdowns in a 35 – 9 win against Saint Francis on homecoming night in Athol Springs on Sept. 27.
A crowd of more than 2,000 saw Canisius senior running back Qadree Ollison, who recently committed to play college football at the University of Pittsburgh, rush for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Junior Brad Zaffram punched in two touchdowns as well, on the ground.
“We’ve got some dynamic players,” said Canisius head coach Rich Robbins, whose team improved to 3 – 1 overall, in its Monsignor Martin opener. “We’re going to have to make some [big plays] and tonight we did when we had to; and again, being stout on defense helps us and puts us in better positions.”
Zaffram and Ollison both scored in the first half, as the Crusaders led 14 – 0 at the break. St. Francis opened the second half scoring with a 38-yard field goal by 6-foot-1, 270-pound junior lineman Charbel Dabire, but Canisius responded, scoring the next two touchdowns, to put the visitors ahead 28 – 3.
“All year, for the last two years, we’ve been a second half team,” Ollison said. “That just shows how much work, as far as conditioning we put in.... In the third and fourth quarter, our guys are still fresh. I think we were able to wear them down tonight.”
Canisius allowed 161 yards of total offense, while gaining 338 yards on offense, more than 200 of it on the ground. The Crusaders possessed the ball for more than 30 minutes and were 7 of 11 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down. Senior quarterback Zach Liberatore threw for 120 yards with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Richards, to seal it, in the fourth quarter.
“I have to do a better job coaching,” said St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith. “If you watch the film, you’ll see, at critical points in the game, things didn’t go our way and because of that, it compounded. I give my kids a lot credit. They played hard.”
St. Francis senior running back Brendon Misterman, who rushed for 113 yards on 14 carries, scored on a 65-yard run, to narrow the gap to 28 – 9 in the fourth quarter. Misterman’s run was the first touchdown the Crusaders’ defense had allowed all season.
St. Francis senior quarterback Jake Dolegala did not play, a week after injuring his shoulder against Cathedral Prep. Smith said, after the game, that Dolegala would miss the remainder of the season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Freshman Gerald Hickson stepped in for Dolegala.
“[St. Francis] is very physical,” Robbins said. “We couldn’t get the inside running game going as much as we’d like to, but that’s what I expect from Coach Smith and his guys. They’re going to play hard.”
St. Francis stays home this week, as it hosts St. Joe’s at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, while Canisius will host St. Mary’s at 2 p.m. on Oct. 5.