Football: Stepnoski’s 259 yards, 4 TDs power Monarchs

It was halftime of Friday night’s Suffolk County Division IV football game, and the visiting Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs trailed The Stony Brook School Bears by 20-16. As McGann-Mercy Coach Joe Read talked to his players, he reminded them to stay calm.

“We were in good shape,” Read said afterward. “We know we can outlast teams. We just had to stick to our assignments.”

In a thoroughly dominating second-half performance, the Monarchs did just that. The McGann-Mercy defense held the Bears to five first downs. On offense, the Monarchs’ Pat Stepnoski ran for three of his four touchdowns. He finished with a career-high 259 yards on 31 carries.

McGann-Mercy won, 40-20.

“Once we settled down,” Read said, “our lines did a great job.”

Both teams scored at will in the opening half. McGann-Mercy (2-4) opened the game with an onside kick and marched down the field to score on Rob Terry’s two-yard dive into the end zone. Stepnoski then caught the two-point conversion pass from Keith Schroeher (4 of 7, 73 yards passing).

The Bears (0-6) struck right back when McGann-Mercy missed a defensive assignment and Stony Brook quarterback Marco Masakayan scampered five yards to score.

Early in the second quarter, Stepnoski burst 20 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Terry (87 yards on 10 carries) ran in the two-point conversion to put McGann-Mercy back on top, 16-6.

But Stony Brook answered with two quick touchdowns, the go-ahead score coming on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Masakayan to Jerome Washington.

The Monarchs, who were almost completely healthy for the first time this season, played like a different team in the second half.

D. J. Wilmott and Terry contained Masakayan. The Stony Brook offense never got going again. McGann-Mercy’s Ryan Heimroth recovered a pair of fumbles and teammate Ryan Stetler intercepted a pass.

“Our defense was much better,” Read said. “We were disciplined and aggressive. We gang tackled.”

Stepnoski, running behind the superb blocking of Ray Ellis, Anthony Heppner and Terry, picked up huge chunks of yardage. Early in the third quarter, Stepnoski, on an option run, scooted 23 yards around the end for a touchdown. Terry ran in the two-point conversion.

Stepnoksi then sliced off tackle seven yards into the end zone. He also scored on the two-point conversion run.

Stepnoski capped his performance by galloping 37 yards straight up the middle in the fourth quarter to score untouched. Schroeher ran for the two points. Stepnoksi also caught four passes for 73 yards.

“Pat is a great athlete,” Read said. “Rob Terry is a tremendous asset as his lead blocker, but Pat also has great instincts. He reads the blocks and moves the right way. His instincts take over.”

Read was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“Our potential is now starting to be seen now that we are at full strength,” he said. “I knew we were capable of moving the ball. Now, the defense is starting to kick in.”

This post was originally published Oct. 16, 2010