The timid, weak, or faint of heart typically don’t make plays at the end of football games.
Fortunately for La Salle High, it had a savage when it needed one the most, helping the Explorers knock off Imhotep, 15-12, at the Germantown Supersite in the season opener for both teams.
With the game within the Explorers’ grasp, senior captain Ryan Savage, as he did much of game, was just quicker, faster, and more physical than those trying to block him.
“I think I’ve always tried to play as my last name says,” Savage said. “It’s definitely in the family genes. You have to play like a savage. And that’s what I try to do.”
It was fourth down with about 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the game, when Savage ripped through the offensive line and tripped up Imhotep senior quarterback Jalen Sutton-Christian.
Savage picked up communication between Imhotep offensive linemen that, he said, tipped him to where the play might go.
“It was an adrenaline rush,” Savage said. “I saw the crowd jump and the whole sideline jumping.”
The go-ahead score came after a 15-yard pass from senior quarterback Jack Machita to junior Tim Mehlmann at the 4:55 mark in the final frame.
Machita finished 9-of-16 passing for 56 yards. He added 38 more yards on the ground.
Sophomore running back Sam Brown added 43 yards on 10 carries, including a momentum-seizing 12-yard score with 1:45 left in the third.
Brown’s score got La Salle within, 12-9, after the Explorers had trailed 12-3 at intermission.
A lateral late in the second quarter was fumbled and then scooped up by Imhotep junior defensive back Shafeek Smith, who galloped for a long touchdown run that ended the half.
“So what, now what?” coach John Steinmetz said has been his mantra to his team so far this year.
“At the end of the half there,” Steinmetz said, “we had a little blip there. So what, now what? And the kids have been really good responding to it.”
For Imhotep, Saint McLeod finished with 76 yards rushing on 19 carries and D’Shaun Seals added 51 yards on three catches. Seals also added a long kick and punt return.
La Salle’s defense, however, remained stingy all night.
“We’re just hard workers,” Steinmetz said. “We just grinded it out. We’re not gonna win any games easily, so our guys had to play to the finish.”
La Salle 0 3 6 6 15
Imhotep 0 12 0 0 12
IM: Jalen Sutton-Christian 9 run. Kick failed.
LS: Jake Gandolfo 36 FG.
IM: Shafeek Smith 52 fumble return. Run failed.
LS: Sam Brown 12 run. Kick failed.