CUYAHOGA FALLS: Walsh Jesuit was in comeback mode, and the home crowd Friday night at Conway Memorial Stadium could sense it.
Parris Campbell Jr. of rival St. Vincent-St. Mary devised another plan.
With the Irish’s lead cut to eight points, Campbell sprinted 99 yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown.
His sideline dash put an end to the momentum and gave the visiting Irish a 35-20 lead with 8:15 to go. That was the final big moment in a game filled with big moments before an overflow crowd.
Campbell had two rushing touchdowns for St. V-M (2-0), too.
“Our skill came through,” St. V-M coach Dan Boarman said. “Parris bailed us out with that kickoff return and made it our game again.”
Before Campbell’s 99-yard sprint, Walsh (0-2) cut the deficit to 28-20 on a 27-yard field goal by senior Mike Knoll with 8:28 remaining.
“I am trying to score at all times,” Campbell said. “I looked up at the scoreboard, [then] saw a couple of blocks, hit the hole and just got to the seam. I put that on my team. That is all my blockers. I got behind them and got to the end zone.”
Campbell rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries and had three receptions for 16 yards.
Senior quarterback Aaron Bushner orchestrated the Irish offense effectively by completing 10-of-15 passes for 130 yards and by rushing nine times for 70 yards.
“This is a great win,” Bushner said. “I had to come out here after being gone for a year because of that [torn ACL] injury last year and just show out. I feel great to get this win. The injury happened last year in this exact game [against Walsh].”
Sophomore Tyrece Speaight also played a key role by grabbing three interceptions (6:40 first quarter, 7:02 third quarter and 2:04 fourth quarter). He had two last year.
“[Senior] Dante Booker made my job a whole lot easier,” Speaight said. “He and our other guys got to the quarterback pretty quickly and [Walsh QB] threw up a couple of lazy passes. I just capitalized on the opportunities. Book, the Adkins twins [seniors Aaron and Tony], [senior] Travonte Junius and [junior] Dre’k Brumley played awesome.”
St. V-M took a 7-0 lead via a 4-yard run by junior Vince Lockett with 5:53 to go in the first quarter. Knoll converted a 48-yard field goal with 11:55 left in the second. Campbell made it 14-3 with a 16-yard touchdown run at 8:38 in the second. Walsh junior Anthony Rozum countered with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown 15 seconds later. St. V-M senior Newman Williams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run at 1:46 to go in second to make it 21-10 at halftime.
The Warriors cut their deficit to 21-17 early in the second half. Warriors junior Zach Connolly recovered a fumble on the Irish 25 two plays into the third quarter, Rozum dashed for a 23-yard run on the next play and senior Bryan DiCillo followed with a 2-yard touchdown run at 11:00. Campbell had a 1-yard touchdown at 1:51 in the third.
Irish senior Evan Cunningham was 5-of-5 on extra-point kick. Knoll was 2-of-2.
“The kids came out in the second half I think ready to go,” Walsh coach Gerry Rardin said. “The kids really took advantage of field position and so forth, but we have been giving up too many big plays at the wrong time. It was the same story last week. That team, [Youngstown] Ursuline, that we played last week scored three touchdowns on fourth-and-long situations. That is ridiculous. Tonight, was more of the same.
“We just have given up the big play. It is a shame because in between we are playing pretty decent. Those guys are a handful though. They have some speed all over the place.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.