Kickoff returner River McMillan could only recall a handful of times when he came close to going the distance on a return.
But on Saturday afternoon, the senior broke though.
McMillan returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to put St. John the Baptist immediately on the board and give his team a lead it would never surrender in a 31-6 home victory over Xaverian in a CHSFL football game.
“It was just a feel,” McMillan said. “I caught it, saw the left side open up and just bounced it out there. And it was just off to the races. My heart was racing for like two quarters. It just wouldn’t stop.”
St. John the Baptist coach Philip Alba emphasized the significance of McMillan’s touchdown following their 32-0 loss to Xaverian in their last meeting back in 2019.
“That was huge for us,” Alba said. “The last time we played this team they really physically dominated us. It was 32-0 at halftime and special teams was a big part of that loss. And for us to open up with such a big special teams play gave us great momentum.”
This time around it was the Cougars who had the dominant first half. Quarterback Kyle Chase sprinted across the goal line for a 5-yard rushing touchdown with 6:44 left in the first and running back Mark Anthony Scott later cut back down the left sideline for a 31-yard score, extending the lead to 21-0 with 1:31 left in the first.
Scott led the way with 15 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown. Chase completed 8 of 15 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and said he was excited for the matchup.
“We got beat up pretty badly last time,” Chase said. “So when I saw this game on the schedule I definitely circled it. They’re a really good team and very physical.”
Tensions flared about three minutes into the second quarter immediately following a 4-yard touchdown reception by Jayson Zeva that pushed the St. John the Bapist advantage to 28-6. After some pushing and shoving, there was a brief pileup before order was restored. Three players on each team were ejected.
“It was kind of a shock,” Scott said. “I was on the other side of the field, but I just wanted us to keep our composure a little more.”
“It got a little out of hand and the talking after was disappointing,” Alba said. “But the kids got frustrated and I understand that. It was about recomposing ourselves after that. We have a ton to play for and all the goals we want to achieve are in front of us. We accomplished the goal for today and have much bigger plans in store.”