NEW CANAAN — This marriage between the St. Luke’s football program and the Evergreen Football League is working out quite nicely.
The Storm improved to 2-0 this 2019 season Saturday as they conquered Albany (NY) Academy, 31-13 before a hot but happy partisan crowd at Watson Field at Pedrick Stadium.
On a day where the heat index was at a reading only the owners of Gatorade could love, St. Luke’s won the war of attrition against a game but shorthanded (roster of less than 30 players) Albany Academy squad.
St. Luke’s started the afternoon on fire. Koy Price returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. The Storm capped their first extended possession with a 60-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Everett Andersen to Jeremy Reid to build a 14-0 with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
“We love starting a game with a big splash,” St. Luke’s coach Noel Thomas said. “But Albany adjusted. It became a big battle.”
Although the Cadets amassed 110 yards rushing on 25 carries, Albany only closed to 14-6 at halftime.
With Albany having a large percentage of players performing on both sides of the ball, St. Luke’s went to its ground and pound running attack in the second half.
Possessing a huge offensive line, the Storm let the big dogs eat. And the depth St. Luke’s has at running back proved key in the hot conditions.
Koy Price had 87 of his 97 yards after intermission including a 65-yard burst. Price left early in the fourth quarter after getting sandwiched and hit in the head by two penalized Albany defenders.
Austin Anderson gained 77 of his 99 yards rushing in the second half. In all, St. Luke’s had 168 yards rushing on 23 carries in the second half.
“The key was just getting back to basics,” Andersen said. “With the huge offensive line we have we love to run right up the middle. And with all the options we have at running back (Andersen, Price, Shamond Moore) we know multiple guys can fill those shoes.”
Albany quarterback Ben Farrell completed 7 of 10 passes for 85 yards. But turnovers hurt the Cadets over the last two quarters.
On their opening possession of the third quarter, Farrell found 6-foot-5 tight end Marcel Davis with a 30-yard pass only to see St. Luke’s Brandon Bulerin recover a fumble on the St. Luke’s 4 after a hard hit.
“That fumble inside the five-yard line was the turning point,” Albany coach Bo Buran said. “That really hurt.”
It hurt more when St. Luke’s drove 96 yards in 11 plays capped by Austin Andersen’s three-yard TD run with 1:59 left in the third quarter for 21-6.
St. Luke’s turned a Price interception on Albany’s next possession into a seven-minute drive and a 30-yard Andrew Lau field goal for 24-6 with 6:19 to go.
“We had chances in the passing game but couldn’t make the connections,” Thomas said. “We ran the ball well. And our defense rose to the challenge. And we finished another mission.”