Defense has long been a cornerstone for Saint Louis.
Add the ground attack as another staple.
The Crusaders limited Roosevelt to 1 rushing yard in the first half and Derek Nakasato broke off an 80-yard scoring jaunt in a 48-8 win last night at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.
Nakasato finished with 128 rushing yards and Keanu Mook-Garcia added 132 as the Crusaders finished with 319 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was crisp in his first start. He completed nine of 14 passes for 168 yards and ran for 28 more while directing new coach Darnell Arceneaux’s multiple-set offense.
"We prepared all week for this. I was a little bit nervous. You always get butterflies before a game," the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior said.
Saint Louis’ defense, anchored by defensive ends Na’Alii Robins and Kalei Auelua, wreaked havoc on Roosevelt’s ground game. The two accounted for 2.5 of the team’s three first-half sacks of Roosevelt quarterback Matthew Lono-Holani. The pressure came all night, mostly from a four-man front.
"We worked together as one unit," Robins said.
Meanwhile, Mariota spread the ball around nicely. He found Kaeo Aliviado for a 30-yard touchdown to give the visitors a 7-0 lead with 2:23 left in the opening quarter.
Later, he found tight end Dallas Tuumalo for a 30-yard gain before connecting with Josh Tupua on an out pattern for a 3-yard score midway through the second quarter.
Roosevelt drove to the Saint Louis 27-yard line after consecutive completions from Lono-Holani to Ashton McKay, but the Crusaders defense repelled the Rough Riders with sacks by Auelua and Robins.
Mariota combined with Duke Bukoski for a 76-yard touchdown pass and the Saints led 21-0 with 3:39 to go in the first half.
The play was Bukoski one-on-one against a cornerback, using a delay-type route as Mariota launched the sky-high spiral down the sideline.
"It felt good. Playing with different guys is good compared to practicing with our defense every day," said Bukoski, who finished with three receptions for 90 yards.
After Roosevelt’s fourth punt of the half, Nakasato broke through the right side on a draw, weaved to the left sideline at midfield and cut back against the grain en route to his 80-yard touchdown.
Roosevelt’s best first-half scoring threat came on a 92-yard kickoff return by Agaese Tago in the second quarter, but it was called back by an illegal-use-of-hands call.
The Rough Riders got on the scoreboard when Lono-Holani found Tago wide open downfield for a 33-yard toss with 10:31 left in the contest.
Saint Louis (1-0, 0-0) 7 27 14 0 — 48
Roosevelt (0-1, 0-0) 0 0 0 8 — 8
SL—Kaeo Aliviado 30 pass from Marcus Mariota (Jesse Correa kick)
SL—Joshua Tupua 3 pass from Mariota (Correa kick)
SL—Duke Bukoski 76 pass from Mariota (Correa kick)
SL—Derek Nakasato 80 run (Correa kick)
SL—Mariota 8 run (kick failed)
SL—Keanu Mook-Garcia 1 run (Correa kick)
SL—Bukoski 1 run (Andrew Baltazar kick)
Roos—Agaese Tago 33 pass from Matthew Lono-Holani (Michael Kulia-Moe run)
RUSHING—StL: Keanu Mook-Garcia 6-132, Nakasato 6-128, Mariota 4-28, Kala McShane 3-13, Bukoski 1-13, Kawai Mook-Garcia 2-3, Kaimi Umebayashi 1-2, Kamana Pimental 1-0. Roos: Lono-Holani 9-24, William Kaina 1-9, Anthony Wilson 1-3, Toa Fola 4-0, Cozia Chapman 1-(-1), Tago 3-(-13).
PASSING—StL: Mariota 9-14-0-188, Kawai Mook-Garcia 0-0-0-0. Roos: Lono-Holani 14-21-0-79.
RECEIVING—StL: Bukoski 3-90, Aliviado 2-38, Dallas Tuumalo 1-30, Jared Tomaszek 1-17, Keanu Mook-Garcia 1-10, Tupua 1-3. Roos: Ashton McKay 4-41, Tago 4-19, Asten Koki 2-8, Toa Fola 2-5, Michael Kulia-Moe 1-8, Pono Heen 1-(-2).
Junior Varsity—Saint Louis 37, Roosevelt 13