Schaefer carries Rams to 4th win

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The senior running back rushed for 225 yards in Scott City's 31-7 victory over Brentwood.

By David Kvidahl

Special to the Southeast Missourian

BRENTWOOD -- Matt Schaefer should try his hand at the World's Strongest Man competition. The Scott City senior running back did most of the heavy lifting Friday night as the Rams rolled over the Brentwood Eagles 31-7 in a nonconference game.

The 5-foot-5, 150-pound Schaefer rattled off 225 yards on 30 carries for two touchdowns. He would have had more if not for a pair of holding penalties on the Rams.

"He's not a big old player," Scott City coach Terry Flannigan said. "He's a little guy but he plays like he's 6-2, 220."

The Rams improved their record to 4-0 -- a win better than all of last year -- while Brentwood fell to 1-3.

The pint-sized back repeatedly shifted and hid behind the hard-hitting offensive line until he could break free. Once he was in the clear, it was just a matter of eating up the yards.

"He's tough to pick up [behind the offensive line]," Flannigan said. "And when you do pick him up he's right past you."

Scott City quarterback Mark Johnston provided a different look when Schaefer didn't tote the ball. Johnston rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries and threw for 59 yards on 6-of-14 passing. He was intercepted once.

From the opening kickoff, Scott City set the tone for the night. The Rams gobbled up nearly eight minutes as they drove 66 yards to the end zone, collecting six first downs in the process. Both Schaefer and Johnston provided key plays during the initial drive. On fourth-and-2 at the Eagles 5-yard line, Johnston ran a keeper for three yards. Schaefer collected the first of his two touchdowns with a 2-yard plunge. Schaefer's extra-point attempt was good and gave the Rams a 7-0 lead with 4 minutes and 44 seconds left in the first quarter.

Brentwood didn't bow, as it bounced right back with a score of its own in just under two minutes. Eagles junior running back Brandon Ellis capped a four-play drive by bolting 40 yards for a touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the quarter. It was the longest play the Rams defense allowed on the night.

"People were saying 'Oh, they're 1-2,' but I knew this was a good football team," Flannigan said. "They're a good ballclub, they have two quality backs and they are physical."

Not only did the Scott City defense limit Brentwood to 129 total yards, it sacked Brentwood quarterback Vishwaas Seeram three times and posted two interceptions. Senior defensive back Shaun Hann took the second interception 47 yards for a touchdown, capping the scoring.

The story was the spectacular running of Schaefer. When he wasn't running for his 225 yards, he was Johnston's favorite target, catching four passes for 18 yards. Senior wide receiver Luke McClellan caught one pass for 25 yards and a touchdown.

"He wants the ball," Flannigan said of Schaefer. "He worked all summer and he's really benefiting from that."

Of Schaefer's 30 runs, six went for more than 10 yards and three of those went for at least 26 yards. His long run was a 30-yard dash that set up his second touchdown.

Despite the pounding the Rams delivered to Brentwood, Flannigan knows the real challenge is down the line. Sure, Scott City has one more win than it did last year, but he has grander visions for the team.

"The kids are starting to believe in the system," he said. "That's a huge part. The goals we're chasing are still to come. We continue to play like this and we can go a long way."

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