Victoria Advocate AdvoSports

TAPPS Football State Bound:
Cardinals pass attack comes alive to beat Sacred Heart

by Albert Alvarado, Advocate Sports Writer
Friday, November 30, 2012 Article   |   St. Paul Cardinal Football   |   Shiner Home Page

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Shiner St. Paul quarterback Dakota Kresta throws a pass against Sacred Heart on Friday. He threw for 217 yards against the Indians.
photos by Morgan Walker
GIDDINGS - Shiner St. Paul quarterback Dakota Kresta experienced one of the worst stinging pains a football player can have. But also one of the sweetest ones.

And they came within seconds of each other.

Despite taking the crown of a helmet to the knee on the clinching touchdown, Kresta completed 10-of-12 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns while senior running back Adam Hollenbach added four rushing touchdowns to help St. Paul (9-3) beat rival Hallettsville Sacred Heart (9-4) 49-35 in the TAPPS Division III state semifinals at Buffalo Stadium.

"It's sweeter than anything you can buy or anything you can get, it's the best thing I've ever felt," said Kresta about the playoff win against Sacred Heart. "It's amazing."

The win sets up a state final matchup between St. Paul and Frisco Legacy on Friday (12/07/2012) at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. The loss ends any hope Sacred Heart had for a TAPPS Division III state title after the Indians won it all in Division IV last season.

Hollenbach rushed for 136 yards on 28 carries while senior wide receiver Dylan Barton caught six passes for 173 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.

After Sacred Heart cut the St. Paul lead to six points with five minutes remaining, the Cardinals milked the clock and went on one final emphatic drive to end Sacred Heart's season.
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St. Paul running back Adam Hollenbach catches a pass during Friday's game in Giddings.

Facing a fourth and 13 from the Indians' 20, Kresta looked down field for a pass, but with every receiver covered, he tucked the ball in and ran off tackle to the left side, where there was plenty of room.

"Kresta's just an athlete; he's going to make plays," said Sacred Heart coach Pat Henke. "We knew that coming in, and they had a great game plan for us. I thought we both had great game plans; they just outscored us."

Kresta hesitated for a second, likely debating whether to score or fall at the one and take more time off the clock. The senior fell into the end zone and, after a timeout, kicked the extra point that put the game away with less than a minute remaining.

"I didn't know what the heck I was doing," Kresta said with a smile. "I kind of freaked out right there when I got to the goal line, then I figured, 'I'm this far, I might as well go in.'"

Junior running back Jonathan Vanek led the Indians offense with 195 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, while senior quarterback Leightin Pilat had 188 yards and two touchdowns on the ground but was sacked five times.
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Senior wide receiver Jared Markham hugs Darlene McElroy, mother of teammate Mitchell McElroy, after the Cardinals' win over Hallettsville Sacred Heart at Buffalo Stadium in Giddings.

The Cardinals avenged a 28-21 loss during the school's TAPPS District 5, Division III regular season game.

St. Paul flipped the script from the 2011 season when it beat Sacred Heart during the regular season then lost in the state final.

"We just won the game that counts," Hollenbach said.

The game figured to be a showcase of running backs with Vanek and Hollenbach. But the first half belonged to the quarterbacks.

Kresta's first completion to Barton for 33 yards helped set up Hollenbach's first touchdown from one-yard out and give the Cardinals an early 6-0 lead.

Pilat responded quickly with touchdown runs of 65 and 78 yards less than three minutes apart to put the Indians ahead 14-6.

"It boils inside of me," Kresta said. "I think 'Oh man, I can do better than that guy.' I do my best to get a score, get yardage, anything."

Kresta quickly cut into the lead. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Kresta hit Barton on a 64-yard touchdown connection that cut the Sacred Heart lead to 14-12 late in the first quarter.
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The Shiner St. Paul Cardinals celebrate after their win over Hallettsville Sacred Heart at Buffalo Stadium in Giddings, Texas.
photo by Lori Raabe

Hollenbach's four-yard touchdown run capped a 13-play, 64-yard drive for St. Paul and put it back ahead late in the first half.

The Indians appeared poised to regain the lead and drove to the Cardinals eight-yard-line, but Mitchell McElroy intercepted Pilat's pass at the four and ended that threat.

"I'm never going to fault Pilat," Henks said. "He's just a competitor, and he was trying to make a play. If he had to do it all over again, he'd throw it out of bounds and we'd have two more plays. That's the way it goes. That's football and you're not going to win them all."

Sacred Heart turned the ball over again on a Pilat nine-yard run in the second half.

Hollenbach capped the ensuing drive with his fourth touchdown of the game, this one from a yard out to extend the Cardinal lead to 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.

"Those turnovers were the difference," said St. Paul coach Jake Wachsmuth. "We stopped them from scoring and the one thing we didn't do, we didn't turn it over."

Kresta's 60-yard connection with Barton midway through the third quarter put St. Paul ahead 35-28. After two ties and four lead changes to that point, the Cardinals wouln't relinquish that lead.

More Photos by Morgan Walker from The Victoria Advocate
Click on any photo to enlarge, use arrow keys or mouse to advance to next photo:

St. Paul senior Dylan Barton runs the ball before being tackled. St. Paul senior running back Martin Kennedy runs the ball. St. Paul Quarterback Dakota Kresta runs the ball. St. Paul Quarterback Dakota Kresta takes the ball from center.
A St. Paul defender tackles Sacred Heart junior Jonathan Vanek. St. Paul defender Mitchell McElroy tackles a Sacred Heart runner. Sacred Heart senior Cade Brewer runs the ball from St. Paul senior Mitchell McElroy. Sacred Heart's Leightin Pilat attempts to escape several St. Paul defenders during Friday's game.
Sacred Heart junior Evan Wick hands off the ball to senior Cade Brewer. Sacred Heart junior Jonathan Vanek runs the ball. Sacred Heart quarterback Leightin Pilat hands off the ball to junior Jonathan Vanek. Sacred Heart junior Jonathan Vanek is tackled by St. Paul senior Austin Horne.
St. Paul running back Martin Kennedy dives for the ball. The Shiner St. Paul Cardinals celebrate after their win over Hallettsville Sacred Heart. Cardinals No. 58, Travis Raabe, hugs former player, Devin Pesek, as they celebrate the Cardinals win. Jed Janecek, No. 16, and Colton Machart, No. 32, celebrate together after the game.

statistics source:


    Shiner St. Paul 49, Hallettsville Sacred Heart 35


                            Sacred Heart   St. Paul
    First Downs:            17             23
    Penalties:              6              7
    Penalty Yards:          60             75
    Attempted passes:       12             12
    Completed passes:       4              10
    Passing Interceptions:  1              0
    Passing Touchdowns:     0              2
    Passing Yards:          36             217
    Rushes:                 32             45
    Rushing Yards:          383            208
    Rushing Touchdowns:     5              5
    Fumbles:                2              0
    Fumbles Lost:           1              0
    Punts:                  1              1
    Punting Yards:          24             30


                                 1    2    3    4  --  Final
    Hallettsville Sacred Heart  14    0   14    7  --  35
    Shiner St. Paul             12    8   15   14  --  49


  First Quarter
     SSP: Adam Hollenbach 1 run (Kick failed) 6:37
     HSH: Leightin Pilat 65 run (Kick failed) 5:17
     HSH: Pilat 78 run (2 point conversion pass) 2:22
     SSP: Dylan Barton 64 pass from Dakota Kresta (2 point failed) 1:01

  Second Quarter
     SSP: Hollenbach 4 run (Martin Kennedy run) 2:20

  Third Quarter
     HSH: Jonathan Vanek 6 run (Casey Jirkovsky kick) 9:22
     SSP: Hollenbach 20 run (Kennedy run) 6:59
     HSH: Vanek 71 run (Jirkovsky kick) 6:55
     SSP: Barton 60 pass from Kresta (Kresta kick) 5:15

  Fourth Quarter
     SSP: Hollenbach 1 run (Kick failed) 10:35
     HSH: Vanek 14 run (Jirkovsky kick) 5:40
     SSP: Kresta 20 run (Kresta run) 0:57


     HSH:  Jonathan Vanek 20-195, Leightin Pilat 12-188,
     SSP:  Mitchell McElroy 2-2, Adam Hollenbach 28-136, Martin Kennedy 8-32, Dakota Kresta 7-38

     HSH:  Leightin Pilat 12-4-36-1
     SSP:  Dakota Kresta 12-10-217-0

     HSH:  Casey Jirkovsky 4-36,
     SSP:  Martin Kennedy 2-33, Jared Markham 2-10, Dylan Barton 6-173

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