When Howie Steele intercepted Jon Barnes’ pass in the end zone with under a minute to play Friday night at Spuller Stadium, he knew that warmth and dryness were only minutes away.
In less than desirable conditions that featured gusty wind and sideways rain, Steele’s interception sealed Bishop Dwenger’s 14-7 win over Snider to hold sole possession of second place in the SAC.
“This is what October brings,” Steele said. “It brings this kind of weather – cold and rainy – and we need to execute in games like this even when the environment is kinda tough.”
Nobody scored in the second half of a game that produced a total of 127 passing yards.
“Anytime you play a team like Snider it’s really hard, but with the environment we just had to grind through it,” Steele said. “Just made it even tougher.”
The Saints (7-1) seemed to be in good shape with under four minutes to play, but the Panthers stuffed them on a fourth and one with 3:46 to play, turning the ball over on downs at the Snider 20.
Barnes hit Drew Sims and Alonzo Derrick for big gains to keep the Panthers’ hope alive before Steele and the Saints’ defense crushed it.
“All 11 players on our defense executed," he said. "They all did their jobs; we stopped the run and made plays when we had to."
Snider (6-2) was Dwenger’s only loss last season en route to its Class 4A state championship, and the Saints haven’t earned a win in the last three meetings.
“We haven't beat them in the last four years, so we came out and fought hard, and it’s cold but we didn't give up,” Devon Tippmann said. “I think that’s what got us the win.”
Both teams fell to undefeated Homestead earlier this season.
“We never really forget that feeling we feel after a loss, he said. "After that loss, we just let if fuel us every week," Steele said. "We know we need to execute if we want to beat a team like Snider or Homestead.”
Patrick Finley exploded for a 24-yard gain on fourth and five to set the Saints up on the Panthers 1-yard line. Tippmann punched it in to take the early 7-0 lead. He finished with 129 rushing yards.
After a fumbled snap by the Saints, Lenny Bennett and the Panthers responded as the running back dodged multiple Saints’ tackles to scamper into the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. Bennett finished with 112 rushing yards.
Henry O'Keefe returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to later set up a Louis Tippmann 1-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 with 4:15 left in the first half.