April 29th, 2017

Rockets beat SHA in Pink vs. White thriller

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Rockets beat SHA in Pink vs. White thriller
Assumption and Sacred Heart battle / photo by Paul Najjar

This year’s Pink vs. White game will go down in the record book – for its extreme competitiveness – and the way the game ended.

Assumption defeated Sacred Heart 32-28 to win the Pink vs. White game for the fourth time in five years at St. Xavier's Brother Thomas More Stadium Friday night.

“I’ll tell you what, my wife (Stephanie, '93) is an Assumption graduate and my daughter (Mallory, '13) is an Assumption graduate,” Assumption head coach Wayne West said. “They love Assumption and therefore I love Assumption. The school pride for all four schools is absolutely phenominal. I love being a part of this.”

But the game ended early as lightning was spotted, the game was played with a running clock for the protection of the large crowd, and it was called with 3:12 remaining on the clock.

Lacrosse star Shelby Wuest stole the show for Assumption finding the end zone five times – three rushing – and two passing.

“We knew coming in that we were going to have to hit the block,” Wuest said. “We knew we had to use our speed off of the blitz.”

Kelly McCauley led Sacred Heart with three touchdown passes – Abby Thompson had a rushing touchdown and caught one score – while Buse had a receiving touchdown – and scored the PAT three times.

“Kelley and Sarah are a lethal combination,” Sacred Heart head coach Marc Breit said. “I think you saw that tonight. Sarah Buse is quick and elusive. She can also make short range throws. Kelly not only throws the ball extremely well but also executes. She does the little things that you look for in high school quarterbacks.”    

Other than the first three minutes, Sacred Heart led for most of the game until the final play when Wuest darted into the end zone on a 2-yard run to put the Rockets up 32-28 and that ultimately ended up being the final play of the game.  

The Rockets game winning drive started at their own 29-yard – and Wuest set up her winning touchdown with 32 and 29 yard runs.

“What really got us in there was the running clock,” Wuest said. “We knew we had to speed it up and get into the end zone as quick as possible.”

Wuest was the star from the start to finish returning the opening kickoff 98 yards to give the Rockets a 6-0 lead 12 seconds into the game.

“We actually had a reverse call but their kicker absolutely blasted it over her head,” West said. “At that point she just caught it and took off right down the middle and split two defenders and was gone.”

And then Sacred Heart took over after the kickoff return going up 7-6 on Abby Thompson’s 9-yard touchdown run and Sarah Buse’s pass to Abby Thompson gave the Valkyries the PAT.

“That was definitely a shock at the beginning of the game,” McCauley said. “But we don’t get our head down. It was the first 30 seconds of the game and there was plenty of time left. We were ready to go and fight.”

The Valkyries stopped the Rockets on the next series and went 80 yards going up 14-6 on Kelly McCauley’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Thompson.

Wuest and the Rockets responded when her 14-yard touchdown pass to Jenna Calhoun and dart to Piper Gray on the PAT put the Rockets within 14-13 with 6:10 left in the second quarter.

“We talked about how the scoreboard didn’t matter at halftime,” Calhoun said. “We came out in the second half and played hard and our defense got that stop.”

Mary Katherine Hardy’s 61-yard touchdown run pushed the Valkyries lead out to 20-13 and Sarah Buse ran in the PAT to make it 21-13 with 4:39 remaining in the first half.

And then Wuest struck again with a 55-yard touchdown run getting the Rockets within 21-19 at the break.

“I told them at halftime that the most meaningless score in all of football is the halftime score,” West said. “Every game we’ve won we have had to come back to win it. I just told the defense that if we get a stop that we will have the ball last and we will win this game. They came up with the stop.”

The second half was played with a running clock and the Rockets looked to be in trouble when McCauley’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Buse put Assumption in a 28-19 hole with 7:13 to go in the third quarter.

“Kelly threw the ball to me and I was supposed to cut left,” Buse said. “But the right side of the field was open so I just took it down that side of the field and I got in.”

Assumption started its next drive at their own 41-yard line and was driving until Sacred Heart’s Maddie Duane picked off Wuest.

But officials overruled the interception and ruled that Duane was over the line of scrimmage.

“We controlled the game and if they hadn’t of overruled that interception because of her jumping over the line, then the game might have been over,” Breit said. “But that’s football and Sacred Heart flag football. Our offense scored every time except for the very end and they moved the ball all night.”

Facing a 4th and goal from the 8-yard line, Wuest fired an 8-yard pass to McKenna Schelb in the end zone getting the Rockets back within 28-26 with as the third quarter horn sounded.

After the Rockets defense got their first three and out, Wuest led her team on a heroic drive that gave her team the victory.

While the second half was played with a running clock and Sacred Heart didn’t get a chance to answer Assumption’s game winning touchdown, this game will go down as one of the most competitive games in the history of the series.

Perhaps if the game continues, the outcome is different, or perhaps the Rockets get another stop. Either way, it was a fine well-played game that many won’t forget. 


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