ST. JOHN — St. John High School quarterback Kinser Crissman accounted for 281 of the Tigers’ 370 yards in their 47-15 win over Fairfield on Friday.
The 5-foot-8, 153-pound junior quarterback rushed for 175 yards, passed for 106 yards and scored four of the Tigers’ seven touchdowns — two passing, one rushing and one on an interception return.
The win lifts St. John’s record to 4-1, while the Falcons drop to 2-3.
“I thought we did pretty well,” Tigers head coach Nick Garcia said. “I was very proud of them. I knew that (Fairfield) was going to be a good team.
“I was very proud of the kids, how they played and how they kept their heads the whole game. It was a pretty physical game.”
The game began with both teams stopping the others’ offense.
St. John’s defense succeeded in stopping the Falcons’ first drive when St. John’s Austin White fell on a Fairfield fumble by running back P.J. Lewis.
The turnover was one of five by the Falcons’ offense.
“We capitalized on the turnovers,” Garcia said. “I don’t know how many points we scored on turnovers, but we had a couple picks and the fumbles. They were at critical points and we also put points on the board when we got those so there was a momentum swing there.”
The Tigers responded with a long drive aided by two penalties on Fairfield, but were forced to punt after a holding penalty put them in a fourth-and-long situation.
Fairfield’s second drive proved to be its most productive of the night. The drive only lasted three plays, but it concluded with a 57-yard touchdown by Ryan Ewy. The 2-point conversion was good giving the Falcons an 8-0 lead.
“We don’t have any seniors, we’re awful young and we play awful hard,” Falcons head coach Chuck Bisbee said. “We do everything we can.
“We made some adjustments to get to where we could run the ball, and it worked well early. We just made too many mistakes.”
After the score, both teams finished drives with punts.
That is when Crissman took off. The Tigers first scoring drive had five plays. The first was an incomplete pass from Crissman intended for Pat Prescott, who played sparingly for the Tigers in spite of a lower leg injury which had not fully healed by Friday night.
Crissman then ran for 24 yards on three plays to set up a 41-yard bomb to freshman Schuyler Brown, who started the game at tailback in place Prescott.
“That’s just the type of kid Crissman is,” Garcia said of his quarterback’s big game. “He’s the kid I know I could put the load on his shoulder and I’ll know he’ll get the job done.”
The Falcons got the ball on their own 12-yard line. After a 4-yard gain, a holding call pushed Fairfield back to its own 8-yard line.
Then Falcons quarterback Eric Shoenecker threw his first of two interceptions. Crissman completed the pick-6 by returning the interception 10 yards to score.
Crissman’s extra point was good to extend the Tigers lead to 15-8.
The Falcons’ next drive began on their own 19-yard line and they traveled to within two yards of tying the game up.
But the Tigers’ defense got pressure on Fairfield quarterback Eric Schoenecker, who threw the ball as he was hit and Prescott was there for St. John to intercept the pass and prevent a touchdown.
With the ball on their own 10-yard line, the Tigers put the ball in Crissman’s hands. He lost four yards on a first-down scramble from the pocket, but broke a big play running 73 yards to score again for the Tigers.
“(Crissman) is impossible to tackle,” Bisbee said of Crissman’s scrambling abilities. “He was awesome.”
Four drives later, the Tigers scored again on a Crissman pass to Prescott in the back of the end zone from 15 yards out.
“(Prescott), he played more than we really intended for him to play tonight,” Garcia said. “He’s not 100 percent, but when he is, Crissman and Pat, they’re pretty vital to what we do.
“Pat basically played with one leg tonight, but he did a great job.”
The Falcons got the ball back with 1:20 left in the half. They drove to within 13 yards of the goal line, but the first half ended with a fumble recovered by the Tigers.
St. John took a 27-8 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Neither team added points in the third quarter, but the Tigers were the first to strike in the second half. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Prescott received a pitch and sprung to the outside to run for a 37-yard score.
The Tigers extended their lead to 35-8 on a 2-point conversion.
Fairfield’s next drive ended on downs, but the Tigers were able to find the end zone once again. This time, it was Prescott who scored his third and final touchdown of the game on an 11-yard sprint.
The Falcons’ next two drives ended quickly on first-play fumbles, which were recovered by the Tigers defense.
“Like I said, mistakes got us,” Bisbee said. “I’m proud of our kids, they fought hard, but St. John’s got some athletes.”
The Tigers’ final touchdown of the night came on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone from Ethan Long.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ewy fielded the ball and returned it 66 yards to score Fairfield’s final touchdown.
“We do that to everybody,” Bisbee said of the kick return touchdown. “Well, we get a lot of practice at kickoff returns, but all of those guys are freshmen in the back row.”