Two weeks into the season and the St. James High School football team's offense is hitting on all cylinders.
The St. James Tigers improved to 2-0 in non-conference action by belting Houston 39-20 on the road Friday.
St. James piled up 377 yards of total offense, sparked by sophomore quarterback Brett Karnes.
Karnes passed for five touchdowns and rushed for another Friday, as St. James has put up 88 points in the first two weeks of the campaign.
"I really felt like offensively, throughout the whole game, we had kids doing things better than (St. James' season-opening win over Cuba)," said St. James head coach Greg Harlan. "We spread the ball to a lot of receivers and we had kids make some fantastic plays.
"It was one of the best receiving nights we've had a a team in some time. We have some people with big-play potential which makes us difficult to defend at times. And I feel Karnes is getting more and more comfortable."
A pair of Karnes scoring tosses made it 14-0 after one period.
Karnes hit senior wideout Cody Birkner with a 12-yard scoring strike and then found junior wideout Jake Money with a six-yard TD toss. Junior Derek Hale hit both PATs.
It was a scoreless second period as St. James committed a pair of first-half turnovers, so the 14-0 score stood at halftime.
The two teams opened the second half by exchanging touchdowns. Birkner tallied his second TD pass, from 17-yards out, to start the third period scoring. The extra point attempt failed.
Houston got on the scoreboard next, as senior fullback Trevor Merckling got the first of his three TDs on a seven-yard run. The PAT attempt failed.
St. James made it 26-6 after three quarters on a long bomb from Karnes to speedy senior wideout Jamal Sconiers. Sconiers got behind the Houston secondary for a 65-yard scoring reception. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
Houston opened the fourth-quarter scoring with Merckling ending the drive with a 17-yard scoring run. Running back Nathaniel Alkire ran in the two-point conversion to cut the St. James lead to 26-14.
However, Sconiers struck again from long-range, catching a Karnes pass and going 42 yards for the touchdown. Again the conversion failed.
Merckling ended the Houston scoring with a two-yard TD run, but Birkner blocked the PAT attempt. Karnes tacked on a 12-yard TD run.
Karnes hit on 15-of-25 passes for 297 yards, five TDs and two interceptions. Sconiers totaled 107 yards on his two receptions while Money caught five passes for 95 yards and Birkner had seven catches for 90 yards.
Senior running back Jesse Hays paced the St. James ground game with 66 yards.
Page 2 of 2 - Junior linebacker Garrett Ubben led the St. James defense with 13 solo tackles and three assists.
"I think we had some opportunities slip through our fingers; we could have put more points on the board in the first half," Harlan said. "We certainly had some bright spots. We just have to be more consistent."
St. James opens Four Rivers Conference play on Friday, traveling to Hermann (7 p.m. kickoff).
The score by periods:
St. James 14 0 12 13-39
Houston 0 0 6 14-20
The scoring plays:
St. James: Birkner 12-yard pass from Karnes, Hale kick.
St. James: Money 6-yard pass from Karnes, Hale kick.
St. James: Birkner 17-yard pass from Karnes, kick fails.
Houston: Merckling 7-yard run, kick failed.
St. James: Sconiers 65-yard pass from Karnes, conversion fails.
Houston: Merckling 17-yard run, Alkire runs in conversion.
St. James: Sconiers 42-yard pass from Karnes, conversion fails.
Houston: Merckling 2-yard run, kick blocked.
St. James: Karnes 12-yard run, Hale kick.
St. James Statistics
Rushing: Hays 10 for 66, Karnes 8 for 13, Ubben 2 for 4, Money 1 for minus 3.
Passing: Karnes 15-25-297-2.
Receiving: Money 5 for 95, Sconiers 2 for 107, Birkner 7 for 90, Conway 1 for 5.
Fumble recoveries: Hays 2, Orlando 1, Money 1.
Tackle leaders: Hays 5 (solos)-3 (assists), Bradshaw 6-2, Hale 5-2, Orlando 8-5, Ubben 13-3, Money 5-2, Birkner 2-5, McCarthy 3-1.