Story and Photos by ANDREW DYRDAL

Father Ryan shut out Evangelical Christian until the game’s final minutes in Friday’s 34-7 home victory.

After a sluggish start, Father Ryan led just 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but dominated during the second and third, outscoring ECHS 28-0.

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Quarterback Jay Shoop scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard keeper with four minutes and 34 seconds left in the first half. After Father Ryan’s defense answered with a three-and-out, Scoop threw a 33-yard touchdown pass on the next play from scrimmage, finding Seamus O’Connell at the 5-yard line, who broke two tackles and slipped into the end zone.

“It started slow,” Father Ryan coach Brian Rector said. “We really picked up the pace big-time in the second quarter. I’m pleased we were able – maybe for the first time this season – to put together three, four quarters of consistent play. As young as we are, anytime we’re able to get a win we’re ecstatic.”

Shoop went 3-for-4 passing for 44 yards and a touchdown in the first half and added 29 rushing yards and an 18-yard reception. Running back Elton Nkwembe led the team in rushing with nine carries for 73 yards before the break.

On the Eagles’ first drive of the second half, quarterback Keegan Westbrook dropped the ball while under pressure. Father Ryan’s Jack Boutte scooped it up and ran untouched 57 yards for a touchdown to give the Fightin’ Irish a 24-0 lead just 68 seconds into the second half.

Father Ryan’s defense again stepped up, forcing consecutive turnovers on downs before Jackson Byrd punched in the team’s final touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:15 left in the third.

Rector said the team’s defensive backs continued to improve from the start of the season, which helped the team’s defense lock down.

Kicker Anthony Hagey extended the lead to 34-0 with a 28-yard field goal in the fourth – his second of the game – before the Eagles scored with just over five minutes to play.

Father Ryan (3-2) hosts Montgomery Bell Academy (4-1) on Friday.