St. Pius X had little trouble with Cedartown in the first round of the GHSA State playoffs Friday night.
On the opening drive, both teams turned the ball over on downs. After a scoreless first quarter, Jason Jones opened the scoring with a one-yard run to put the Golden Lions ahead 7-0 with 6:51 left in the first half. Cedartown answered when West Virginia running back commit Tony Mathis broke multiple tackles and darted upfield for an 8-yard touchdown. Jorge Pineda’s extra point attempt failed, and St. Pius held a 7-6 advantage.
On the Golden Lions’ ensuing drive, quarterback Connor Egan delivered a superb pass to junior running back Jacob Pajer for a 28-yard touchdown. After recovering a fumble on Cedartown’s next drive, Nolan Aldrich nailed a 37-yard field goal to put the Golden Lions up 17-6 as time expired in the first half.
In the opening drive of the second half, Jacob Pajer capped off a 68-yard drive with a five-yard rushing score.
After forcing another turnover on downs, St. Pius marched 38 yards down the field and scored on a one-yard run from Michael Benefield.
With 7:30 remaining in the game, Cedartown fumbled a punt return, and the Golden Lions took over at the Cedartown 29-yard line. With five minutes left in the game, St. Pius backup fullback James Bir bolted three yards to the end zone, extending the lead to 38-6.
The Golden Lions’ offense excelled and produced 379 yards of total offense against a strong Cedartown defense. DeMarcus “Moose” Mitchell led the St. Pius team in rushing with 108 yards on 14 carries. Pajer had 100 all-purpose yards, including 70 receiving yards and two total touchdowns.
Defensively, Wake Forest commit Zach Ranson led the way for St. Pius with 9.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup. For Cedartown, Mathis had 101 of the team’s 176 rushing yards in his final high school football game. Mathis also led the Cedartown defense with eight tackles.
The win was a milestone victory for St. Pius X head coach Paul Standard, who earned his 159th career win, breaking the record set by the legendary George B. Maloof. After the game, he told High 5 Sports, “I am very humbled… everything that happens at St. Pius stems from George Maloof, and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”
St. Pius X will advance to the second round of the playoffs and play archrival Marist School at home Friday.