FESTUS, Mo. – Senior quarterback Aiden Boyer has wanted to expand his contributions on the football field to the defensive side. Wyatt Springkamper was simply delighted to be out there again.
Ste. Genevieve welcomed a much-needed boost from its passing attack on Friday night, and escaped a physical tussle against first-time opponent Jefferson with a 41-34 road victory.
Justin Schwent blocked a punt late in the third quarter, and Boyer nabbed the clinching interception in the final minute of the game on a rare appearance in the secondary.
The Dragons rolled up 459 yards of total offense, and needed all of them plus a pair of key defensive stops to withstand a serious challenge from the Class 2 Blue Jays.
Springkamper returned to the lineup after missing six games with an ankle injury, and instantly became the shining primary target for Boyer with 209 yards on 14 receptions.
Ste. Genevieve (6-2) seized possession with premium field possession at the 36-yard line after Schwent and lineman Ayden White broke through on special teams with the contest tied at 27-27.
Springkamper broke two tackles on a 22-yard catch following an offensive penalty, and Boyer cut toward the pylon while eluding a hit on a delayed 4-yard keeper for the lead with 10:20 remaining.
The Dragons had struggled to contain the deceptive triple option of Jefferson (4-4), which entered the evening riding a three-game win streak, but made a crucial stop on the ensuing series.
Schwent filled a gap for no gain on third down, and defensive end Will Vaughn was joined by linebacker Jacob Johns in stuffing top running back Sean Usery on fourth-and 2 from the Blue Jays’ 35.
Running back Jack Farlow stunned the opposition by going the distance on the next snap for a 41-27 lead with 6:03 to play, but Jefferson refused to fade.
Gavin Theodoro returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Ste. Genevieve 37, impeded only by kicker Bryant Schwent for a second time after galloping 49 yards to open the game.
Nate Breeze made a leaping touchdown grab against single coverage one play later, and the Jefferson front pushed the Dragons backward on three straight running plays to force a shaky punt.
A wild sequence commenced as the Blue Jays took over from their 23 with 1:58 remaining and no timeouts available.
A 66-yard pass from Kole Williams to Breeze was nullified by a holding call, but Vaughn was flagged for roughing the passer on a blitz moments later.
Boyer checked in at safety for one snap to spell a tired secondary, and picked off another deep throw to seal the outcome on the lone Jefferson turnover.
Boyer delivered a signature performances as a three-year starter, completing 12 straight passes from the spread during the second half to finish 25-of-31 overall for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
With dangerous receiver Kaden Flye unable to play and leading rusher Ayden Butcher sidelined due to a concussion, the emergence of Springkamper proved especially timely.
Aiden Meyer and Tucker Reed each made four receptions for 70 and 37 yards, respectively, and Farlow ended with 71 yards on 19 carries for the Dragons.
Standout linebackers Sam Stokes and Usery each compiled 11 tackles for a Jefferson defense that kept the Ste. Gen. rushing attack mostly contained.
Stokes ignited the home crowd on the second play from scrimmage, catching a pass in the flat and rumbling 54 yards down the right sideline for a 6-0 lead.
Ste. Genevieve forced the Blue Jays to punt on their next three possessions, but missed an initial chance to capitalize when Theodoro broke up a fourth-down pass to stall a 12-play drive.
Boyer soon guided a scoring march by converting passes on third-and-7 to Springkamper and fourth-and-6 to Reed, who then caught a 13-yard slant for a go-ahead score at 7-6.
The Dragons mounted another promising drive that reached the Jefferson 9, but Usery stripped the ball from Devin Flye on a gang tackle at the sideline.
The teams then traded four scores over a volatile three-minute stretch heading into halftime. A 28-yard catch by Breeze preceded a 54-yard touchdown by Stokes on a well-blocked trap play.
Ste. Genevieve countered less than a minute later. Farlow returned the kickoff 40 yards, and broke the plane from the 2 to regain a 13-12 edge following a powerful 42-yard catch by Meyer.
Usery sprinted 65 yards to score on an option pitch two plays later, and Williams tacked on the two-point keeper. The visitors retaliated once again.
Boyer capped a three-play drive with perfect touch on a deep crossing route to Springkamper, who outran the last defender for a 50-yard touchdown and 20-20 deadlock with 29 seconds left.
The Dragons began the third quarter successfully as Boyer nestled a 23-yard pass just beyond double coverage that Springkamper caught for a falling TD after Flye reeled in a deflected throw for a first down.
Williams was 4-of-12 passing for 127 yards, but helped Jefferson answer by moving the chains on throws to Usery and Stokes. Usery followed with a tying 22-yard run to finish with 97 yards on eight carries.
Stokes tallied 78 rushing yards on seven attempts, and Williams chipped in 55 more. Breeze supplied the Blue Jays with eight tackles from his safety spot.
Justin Schwent and Dalton McBride paced the Ste. Genevieve defense with seven tackles each, and Bryant Schwent was perfect on five extra points.
The Dragons close out the regular season at home against Kelly. A victory combined with a Kennett loss to Valle Catholic would likely secure the No. 3 seed in Class 3, District 1.