Helias’ emphasis on run game pays off with win over MICDS

Helias’ Brendan Roberts races upfield during Thursday’s game with MICDS at Adkins Stadium. To view this and other photographs, please visit www.newstribune.com/photos.

Helias’ Brendan Roberts races upfield during Thursday’s game with MICDS at Adkins Stadium. To view this and other photographs, please visit www.newstribune.com/photos. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

The Helias Crusaders concentrated on their run game at practice this week.

It was time well spent, as the Crusaders ran around, over and through the MICDS Rams on Thursday night in a 40-20 victory at Adkins Stadium.

“You could have driven a truck through some of those gaping holes I had to run through,” Helias senior running back Greg Lorang said.

The Crusaders finished with 380 rushing yards on 39 attempts (9.7 avg.) after picking up 353 yards in the ground in their first three games.

“The offensive line did a great job and the backs ran hard,” Helias coach Chris Hentges said. “The backs were very decisive, they were hitting the holes and running downhill.”

Lorang led a three-pronged ground attack with 142 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Zach Rockers also ran for three scores and finished with 108 rushing yards, while junior running back Brendan Roberts totaled 85 yards on the ground.

“That’s great balance, everyone did well when they had their opportunity,” Hentges said.

Roberts and Lorang provided a 1-2 punch early in the second quarter. Pinned back at the 3 after a punt, Roberts busted out for a 45-yard run on first down.

Helias called the same play on the next play — a trap, and Lorang took it the final 52 yards for the score.

“That’s the way that play is supposed to be run,” Hentges said. “Brendan and Greg both hit the hole and made something with it.”

The Crusaders did a lot of their damage between the tackles, something that’s been elusive to achieve through much of the first three games.

“They were overplaying our perimeter run game and we were able to take advantage of that between the tackles,” Hentges said.

Rockers, who gave Helias the lead with a 9-yard TD run on the game’s first drive, eluded the Rams’ pressure in the pocket and sprinted for a 49-yard score with 1:50 to go in the second quarter.

“He did a good job of tucking it and getting yards with his feet,” Hentges said. “He can pull away, he’s got deceptive speed.”

Trailing 20-6 at intermission, the Rams scored on the opening drive of the third quarter on a 9-yard pass from Thomas Militello to Braxton Angle.

It was the second scoring connection between the duo on the night, as they also hooked up for a 5-yard score on the first play of the second quarter.

Helias’ punt was partially blocked on its next series and MICDS took over at its own 39. On third down, Militello was sacked and fumbled and Helias’ Cam Berendzen recovered at the 35.

Three plays later, Lorang took it over from 14 yards out and Anthony Woodruff’s extra point made it 27-13.

Justus Schulte’s interception at the goal line brought an abrupt halt to the Rams’ next drive and he returned the ball to the 17.

The Crusaders then put together an 11-play, 83-yard drive to seal the victory, with Rockers scoring on an 8-yard run.

A key play on the drive was a 19-yard pass on third-and-8 from Rockers to Jeremy Braun to get the ball into MICDS territory.

Rockers, who had thrown for more than 600 yards in Helias’ last two games, finished 6-of-9 through the air for 96 yards Thursday night.

But the Crusaders came into the contest on a two-game losing streak.

“Whatever it takes to win, as long as we win, that’s all that matters,” Rockers said. “Winning is the most important thing.”

Angle caught his third TD pass of the night with 1:29 to play from backup quarterback Collin Palmer.

It was a night for offense as the teams combined for more than 900 total yards of offense.

“We gave up a lot of yards, but we kept them out of the end zone,” Hentges said.

MICDS running back Michael Scherer ran for 109 yards on 15 carries as the Rams (1-3) finished with 455 total yards.

“He’s tough to tackle,” Lorang said. “He was driving his feet and we were having to gang-tackle him.”

Militello was 21-of-32 passing for 201 yards.

Helias (2-2, ranked No. 7 in Class 4) finished with 476 total yards.

The Crusaders will play in Columbia the next two weeks, facing Hickman on Sept. 24 and Rock Bridge on Oct. 1.

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