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Led by Christian Melendez, St. Paul football blasts Crespi

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SANTA FE SPRINGS — After being held to just 20 combined points in the previous two weeks, the St. Paul Swordsmen exploded offensively, scoring on their final six drives to earn their first Angelus League win in the Mike Moschetti coaching era. Four touchdowns by St. Paul senior running back Christian Melendez powered the Swordsmen to a 48-7 victory over the Crespi Celts.

Melendez efficiently sliced through the Crespi (2-4, 0-1) run defense all night, rushing for 130 yards on nine carries, including a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Once, the Swordsmen (3-3, 1-0) went up 34-7 midway through the third quarter, senior running back Anthony Osorio picked up where Melendez left off and rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, all of which came in the second half.

Throughout much of the first half, the Swordsmen struggled to contain the Celts’ run-pass option as Demanie Bell ran rampant, totaling 93 yards on 19 carries. The Celts sustained an eight-play and 14-play drive on their first two offensive series, chewing up time of possession. Crespi’s lone score came on its opening drive when Bell finished the offensive series with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.

Bell finished with one touchdown and 116 yards rushing.

“Crespi ran it right at us,” Moschetti said of his defense’s inability to stop the run. “They had us confused and it is the sixth time this year … a team has driven on us and scored on the opening kickoff. Crespi … (they) were physical,”

The Celts finished with 315 yards of total offense, despite just scoring once.

Despite Bell’s success running through the St. Paul defense, the Swordsmen came up clutch when it was most needed — stopping the Celts on three consecutive late-down situations in the second quarter.

St. Paul’s first successful fourth-down stop came early in the second quarter on fourth-and-1 from St. Paul 3-yard-line. Bell, who had marched the Celts down 77 yards on the drive, was stuffed inches short of the first down.

St. Paul’s second fourth-down stop finally yielded some offensive production as St. Paul’s run defense kept Bell from picking up the first down with 1 yard to go. On the ensuing offensive series, St. Paul took advantage of the short field and capped off a two-play, 57-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run by Melendez, his second of the half.

On the ensuing Crespi offensive series, St. Paul for the first time in the game, forced a three-and-out. Crespi’s subsequent punt was returned 80 yards for a touchdown by St. Paul senior return man Orlando Zepeda, giving the Swordsmen a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.

“The turning point was the two fourth downs where we stopped them. If we don’t stop them on those fourth downs it’s a different game,” Moschetti said. “I think the difference was our kids got off the ball (on fourth down) and knew (Crespi) was gonna run the ball in short-yardage situations. That was the game and snowballed for them.”

St. Paul continued its onslaught in the second half, scoring 27 second-half points — which included long touchdown runs of 68 and 61 yards, by Melendez and Osorio, respectively. The two running backs put the game well out of reach midway through the third quarter.

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