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Iona duo runs away with 20-6 win over SJU

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The 25-year history of the St. John’s/Iona rivalry has seen a lot of memorable moments. But the lone thing Red Storm coach Bob Ricca is likely to take away from the latest installment Friday night at DaSilva Memorial Field is the half-time ceremony honoring legendary public address announcer and former St. John’s quarterback Bob Sheppard.

As for the game itself, there was a lot for Ricca to forget. Iona’s running tandem of Rob Terry and Tom Adams rolled over the Red Storm’s defensive line en route to 264 yards and two touchdowns in the Gaels 20-6 win in front of 1,414 fans.

“The only thing that kept the game close in the first half was that they kept running wide laterally,” Ricca said. “When they started running right at us ... if they would have done that in the first half, it would have been a real ugly game.”

St. John’s (1-2, 1-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) has dominated the series, taking 20 of the 25 games. But of late it’s been all Iona (2-1 2-0), which easily won the last two meetings.

The bigger, stronger Iona offensive line gave Terry and Adams acres of room to run. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Terry ran through the St. John’s defense for 159 yards on 38 carries, while Adams (5-foot-11, 190-pounds) gained 105 yards on 18 carries. Iona garnered 299 of its 336 yards on the ground and ate up almost 39 minutes of possession.

“They did a very good job, we were lucky to have them back,” Iona coach Fred Mariani said of his running backs. “We have four new starters on the offensive line so the key has been to try and get them to get going and they really came through today.”

Iona jumped ahead 6-0 on a pair of Spencer Callahan field goals (23 and 26 yards), but the Red Storm tied the game on its lone offensive touchdown in two games — and the first in the air this season — as Matt Millheiser (10-for-19, 102 yards) hit Matt May for a 10-yard catch, capping a nine play-70 yard drive with 4:22 left in the first half.

St. John’s missed an easy chance to take a one-point lead, though, as holder Anthony Muniz couldn’t handle a bad snap on the extra point and his desperation pass into the end zone was incomplete.

It was one of several miscues for the Red Storm special teams, which struggled for a second straight game.

Iona took the lead on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that took up 6:28 when Adams, on his eighth consecutive carry, leapt over the Red Storm defense from one-yard out to put the Gaels ahead, 13-6 with 13:15 left in the game.

“Nothing was keeping me out of the end zone,” said the junior running back from Levittown. “I knew we needed to get it in to get everyone’s hopes and spirits up ... There was no way I wasn’t getting in that end zone.”

Unable to establish a running game, Millheiser was forced to drop back and pass. But Iona alertly blitzed and barreled over the Red Storm offensive line, and led by Kevin Fales (five tackles and two sacks), the Gaels sent the Red Storm junior quarterback to the turf four times.

“In the second half, once they got up they just came with the house on the blitzes and we just couldn’t answer,” Ricca said. “I was disappointed we couldn’t counter the blitz.”

On second down from his own 10, Millheiser hit Muniz at the 15, but sophomore defensive back Frank Meade jarred the ball loose with a hard hit and Mike Ferranti recovered the ball at the 1. One play later, Adams easily ran into the end zone to put Iona ahead, 20-6 with 6:49 left in the game.

“They were running short stuff all day, so I was just looking for a short play,” Meade said. “Right off the line I saw [Muniz] belly out and I saw the ball coming and I tackled him. I didn’t even know he fumbled but it turned out that way.”

Notes: Sheppard, the longtime voice of Yankees baseball and Giants football, was honored at half-time and received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the St. John’s Touchdown Club. Sheppard, a lefty quarterback for the Redmen from 1929-1931, was presented with a framed original 1903 warm-up.

“I look at them and I want to be out there,” Sheppard said.

The Red Storm plays its next three games on the road, starting with Saturday’s game at Central Connecticut State (0-4) at 1 p.m.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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