St. John’s senior Connor Hulihan goes up high for a reception with Sidney Lehman Catholic’s Kameron Lee in coverage during Friday’s 14-7 Blue Jay victory at Allen East. The Jays advance to take on Minster next Friday night in the Region 28 finals. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
St. John’s senior Connor Hulihan goes up high for a reception with Sidney Lehman Catholic’s Kameron Lee in coverage during Friday’s 14-7 Blue Jay victory at Allen East. The Jays advance to take on Minster next Friday night in the Region 28 finals. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
HARROD — St. John’s had played well enough to claim a 14-0 halftime lead in its Region 28 semifinal versus Sidney Lehman Catholic Friday night at Allen East’s turfed Mustang Field. The Blue Jays then held off a furious Cavalier rally and secured a 14-7 victory to move on into the Regional finals.

The Jays (8-4) will battle Minster next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at a site to be determined Sunday.

“Defense won this game for us. We came into the game with the game plan to shut down their run and we did that well for the most part,” St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte said. “We did not have our best offensive game. They were moving around a lot and giving us so many looks, at times we seemed to be running in circles just to try and block them. There wasn’t a lot of room in the running game today with their game plan. Jared (Wurst) did a nice job with the punting that got us out of trouble and changed the field position at crucial times. It’s all about getting the chance to play another week at this time of year; we’re where we want to be. That was our focus all week because nothing’s taken for granted.”

The game didn’t start well for the Jays as a fumble by them was recovered at midfield.

However, the Jays held on downs at its 41.

An exchanged of punts left the Jays starting at the 31 on their third possession. It ended on play 15 on 4th-and-goal at the Cavalier 9. Wurst rolled right and hit a diving Connor Hulihan in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown. Mark Wrasman made it 7-0 with 9:49 left in the second period.

The Jays’ Michael Butler recovered a Lehman fumble at the Cavalier 31 on the ensuing kickoff but the Jays could not take advantage — with a big gain to the 1 nullified by a chop block — as they returned the favor, with Sidney’s Ethan Knapke picking it up at the 43.

The Jays turned it over once again as this time, Logan Richard recovered at the Blue Jay 41.

On the next play, Collin Will picked off a deep aerial from Sidney Lehman’s Elliott Gilardi and returned it 23 yards to the Jays’ 28.

Wurst’s 50-yard punt pushed the Cavaliers to start their next drive at the 16. Forcing a 3-and-out, a bad snap to punter Kameron Lee forced him to try and scramble to get off a punt; instead, junior Dominic Metzger blocked it and after being pushed into the end zone, Hunter Bonifas recovered for the score with 48 seconds to go and Wrasman made it 14-0 at the half.

The Jays’ defense then had to step up in the second half.

On the Cavaliers’ second drive of the half, they reached the Jays’ 23 (starting from the 23) in seven plays but an incompletion on 4th-and-10 finished that drive.

Sidney’s next series started at its 41 and used nine plays to draw closer. At the Blue Jay 1, Gilardi snuck up the middle and used second effort to cross the goal line. Michael Denning’s point-after made it 14-7 with 3:15 to go in the third period.

The Jays had their best drive of the second half, marching from the 26 to the Lehman 30 in seven plays, then being pushed back due to a motion penalty into a 4th-and-16. An incompletion ended that hope for the Jays.

Lehman then drove to the Jays’ 15 in eight plays but on 4th-and-5, Gilardi was sacked to turn it over on downs.

The Cavaliers got it back as Bradley Haynes grabbed a bobbled throw from Wurst for a pick to set them up at the Jays’ 41.

Lehman drove to the Jays’ 15 in seven plays but a 4-yard loss preceded another Will pick on a double-batted aerial to end that hope.

With no timeouts left by Sidney, the Jays essentially needed one first down to kill the clock, which they got on a 17-yard run by Troy Schwinnen.