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TRACEY ROMAN, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
St. Anthony's Elijah Bankston tries to bring down Marina's Noah Holmes during a nonlague game Friday night in Long Beach.

Marina struggles early, falls to St. Anthony

STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH - The St. Anthony offense didn’t get a chance to run many plays on Friday night at Clark Field, but when it did, the Saints were wildly efficient in a 48-21 nonleague win over visiting Marina.

Thanks to big plays from quarterback Johnny Buksa and running back BJ Busbee, the Saints (3-1) scored 34 points with their first 14 offensive plays that didn’t get called back for a penalty. St. Anthony ended up gaining 495 yards on 38 plays.

Buksa had a hand in four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing, while throwing for 110 yards and rushing for 148 on six carries. He completed six of 12 pass attempts. Busbee scored two rushing touchdowns and gained 60 yards on only three carries. The senior also took a punt return back 65 yards for an important first-half touchdown.

“Of course we’d love to score every play,” St. Anthony coach Mario Morales said. “But it’s a basic read (for Buksa) and he made great decisions tonight.”

Buksa, a senior, has flourished in the Saints read option offense. He now has 974 yards of total offense with nine touchdowns this season.

“I came (to St. Anthony) not really knowing what kind of offense they ran here,” Buksa said. “But I’ve learned quickly, and I’m willing to run or pass. Whatever helps my team win.”

Busbee opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run, and on the first play on the next St. Anthony drive, Buksa hit Nico Ragas for a 55-yard touchdown on a play-action pass. Busbee gave the Saints a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter with his punt return.

Marina (3-2) woke up in the second quarter, and because of an onside kick and a turnover, the Vikings offense held the ball for all but three plays of the second quarter. Two touchdown passes from Ian Green to Noah Holmes made it 20-14 at halftime.

“Our offense played great, but I’m more impressed with our defense,” Morales said. “They were on the field for almost the entire second half, and look what they did in the second half.”

Marina didn’t score again until there was seven minutes left to play. Meanwhile, Buksa and Busbee had touchdown runs of 27 and 26 yards, respectively, to all but put the game away.

“It’s about physicality and communication and we’ve got both working right now,” Busbee said of the Saints defense, which has allowed only 51 points.


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