SHREWSBURY, Mass. — It took just one week to dispel the notion of nerves getting to Andrew Smiley. It took another week for him to completely take over, accounting for all five touchdowns in a 35-14 St. John’s victory over rival Longmeadow.
“I felt a little bit more comfortable, since it was my second start — I kind of knew what to expect,” said Smiley, who has passed for five touchdowns and run for four in just two games.
Longmeadow looked strong early, with quarterback Frankie Elder scoring a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. It took 29 seconds for Smiley to respond, hitting Shad Abrokwah on a 29-yard pass and scoring himself on a 10-yard run.
For a while, Smiley seemed infallible. He began 9-for-11 for 185 yards, including 47- and 30-yard touchdown strikes to senior receiver Micah Cummins.
“I think it’s all practice and timing. He has good arm strength and places the ball really well,” Cummins said. “If we can continue to keep [completing long passes] it’s going to open up other things.”
But it wasn’t all offense for the Pioneers. A defense that allowed 40 points to Holy Name last week shut out Longmeadow in the second half. The Pioneers stopped the Lancers on five possessions in a row, including interceptions by Camden Murphy and Kyle Roy.
“We did some great things today, [forcing] four turnovers on downs against a pretty good offensive team that puts up a lot of points in Western Mass.,” said St. John’s coach John Andreoli. “At the end of the day, we came back to our base defense, getting reads and running to the ball.”
It was a welcome change from the back-and-forth affair of the previous week, and it gave Smiley a chance to gain some breathing room after coming out of halftime with a 21-14 lead.
Smiley completed four passes for 50 yards to senior receiver John Giacoppe on the first drive of the second half before scoring on a 5-yard quarterback run.
“Andrew’s got great poise back there, throwing the football, picking the right people to throw to and pulling it down and running when he has to,” said Andreoli, who noted having Shadrach Abrokwah keeping defenses honest helps to open up the passing game. “Our skill position guys, five weeks in, they’ve come a long way since when we started.”
Notes: It was a career day for freshman kicker Pat Lehane, who was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points after going 1-for-2 against Holy Name. Davon Jones caught four passes for 86 yards and a touchdown for St. John’s.