STE. GENEVIEVE – Valle Catholic held the Lockwood to minus 31 yards of total offense throughout the second half on Saturday, and achieved its goal of getting back to the Class 1 Show Me Bowl.
The Warriors dominated time of possession over the final two quarters with a relentless running attack featuring junior tailback Carter Roth, who recorded 175 yards on 36 carries.
His 2-yard rushing touchdown with three minutes to play helped Valle Catholic seal a 41-27 semifinal victory at Fr. John Dempsey Field.
“The loss last year really got to us, and I’ve got to give it to our line. They created giant holes for me to run through. They are who really led our offense today,” Roth said. “Our line has been excellent this year, and now we just need to get ready for the next week.”
The Warriors (12-1), whose streak of seven consecutive appearances in the state final was snapped by Penney last year, will face Monroe City (14-0) on Saturday at Faurot Field in search of their 15th all-time state championship.
Senior offensive tackle and middle linebacker Brendan Meyer played a huge impact in the victory. He chased down quarterback Paxton Masterson for a sack to finish off the Tigers with 1:37 remaining.
“We knew we had to play our best, and that really fired us up. Then we played great,” Meyer said. “The win feels amazing. We want to bring even more intensity next week.”
Meyer and Dalton Kertz each recorded eight tackles for the Warriors, and defensive end Jacob Bieser paced them with nine.
Valle Catholic began the second half with a 27-21 advantage, and gained possession after playing less than two minutes of defense.
Roth steadily notched 47 yards and three first downs on eight carries, and quarterback Mason Skaggs polished the drive by diving over a pile of players and the goal line on fourth down. An added 2-point conversion gave the Warriors a 35-21 lead with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Skaggs provided 207 yards 10-of-15 passing with one touchdown and one interception. He added two rushing scores and on 18 carries for 39 yards.
The third period ended with the Warriors chipping away at yardage and time with their stout ground game. Their lone pass of the half was a 6-yard hitch to Roth on fourth-and-long that was short of the marker with 9:25 remaining.
But the defense remained stingy, and Valle Catholic regained possession less than a minute later at midfield following a Lockwood punt.
Roth handled snaps out of a wildcat formation during the final scoring drive for the Warriors after Skaggs was jarred by a series of hard hits.
Logan Sparkman answered with a 75-yard kickoff return to cap the scoring for the Tigers with 3:06 to play. He also highlighted the Lockwood offense with two touchdowns and 163 yards on five receptions, including a 77-yard strike from Masterson in the second quarter.
Skaggs connected with Owen Schweigert for a 67-yard touchdown for Valle Catholic on the game’s opening possession.
The Valle Catholic defense clogged rushing attempts up the middle, so the Tigers relied on the speed of Justin Nentrup to the outside. He tallied 25 yards on 10 carries.
Lockwood squared the contest at 7-7 with 2:42 to play in the first quarter on a 7-yard keeper by Masterson, who was 5-of-12 passing for 163 yards.
After a Roth touchdown put Valle back in front, Skaggs went flipping across the plane on a 4-yard keeper for a 21-7 advantage.
Roth restored a 27-21 lead with 31 seconds left before the halftime on a 2-yard carry after Lockwood rallied with 14 straight points.