Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

St. Pius 35, Woodward Academy 31

St. Pius didn’t attempt a pass.

There was no need.

St. Pius rolled up 424 rushing yards in its 35-31 win at Woodward Academy Friday night in the third round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

After an 0-5 start – all five losses were to teams that reached the playoffs, and four of them were to teams that were still playing in Friday night’s quarterfinals – the Lions have reeled off eight straight, and they’ll get a chance next week to avenge one of those losses – a 17-14 setback against Marist – in the semifinals.

“I told them before the season started that no matter what happens in the first five games, whether we’re 5-0 or 0-5 or somewhere in between, if we can handle that mentally, we will be fine when we get to our region,” said St. Pius coach Paul Standard, whose club last appeared in a semifinal game in 2014.

St. Pius running backs Jason Jones and Jacob Pajer ran wild. Jones rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, while Jacob Pajer ran four times for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

“The blockers get all the credit for those runs,” said Pajer. “They left a hole for me and all I had to do was follow my feet.”

In addition to the eye-catching numbers, there’s this – St. Pius had just one offensive play for negative yardage all night, and it was a kneel-down on the last play to run out the clock.

“When certain things are just working, when our line is doing their job and our backs are blocking on the perimeter, we don’t feel the need to turn to the pass,” said St. Pius quarterback Connor Egan, who added 47 yards and a touchdown.

Woodward (11-2) got 265 passing yards from quarterback Mike Wright, who completed 21-of-34 passes, including a pair of touchdowns to Tahj Gary.

Gary finished the night with 102 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Woodward only led for 3:16 in the third quarter after Gary’s 15-yard touchdown run capped a 14-play, 66-

yard drive.

St. Pius regained the lead in six plays, with Egan’s 5-yard run putting the Lions up for good.

The Lions led 28-17 after Jones’ 89-yard run, but Woodward pulled within three on Wright’s 23-yard strike to Gary and a pass to D.A. Allen for the two-point conversion.

Pajer’s second touchdown, a 56-yard run on an option pitch with 2:33 left, put the game out of reach.

St. Pius 7 7 7 14 – 35

Woodward Academy 0 10 7 14 – 31

SP – Jason Jones 17 run (Will Possert kick)

WA- Marshall Golick 18 field goal

SP – Jacob Pajer 45 run (Possert kick)

WA – Mike Wright 21 run (Golick kick)

WA – Tahj Gary 15 run (Golick kick)

SP – Connor Egan 5 run (Possert kick)

SP – Jones 89 run (Possert kick)

WA – Mike Wright 23 pass to Gary (Wright pass to D.A. Allen)

SP – Pajer 56 run (Possert kick)

WA – Wright 22 pass to Gary (kick failed)

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