Carson Petitbon made the toughest decision of his young life last summer when he decided to leave Gonzaga College in the District and transfer to St. Mary’s.
Friday, Petitbon and the Saints made history. St. Mary’s won the MIAA B Conference championship with a 21-13 victory over eighth-ranked Concordia Prep at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Petitbon, a senior quarterback, scored three rushing touchdowns for St. Mary’s (12-0 overall), which completed its first unbeaten season since 1968 (9-0-1). It’s the third MIAA B title in the last five full seasons for the Saints.
“I knew we would be pretty good, but not this good,” said St. Mary’s coach Jason Budroni. “These guys played hard, worked their butts off and it paid off for them.”
“Our goal coming into each game is to win…we believed it all year no matter what,” said Petitbon.
Petitbon’s one-yard run, capping a 12-play, 77-yard drive, gave St. Mary’s some breathing room at 21-13 with two minutes, 20 seconds left in regulation. He keyed the series with a 32-yard run on third down and nine.
When Palmer Austin fell on a Concordia fumble with 1:42 left, the 2022 Saints’ place as the program’s best-ever was secured.
The foundation was laid months ago when Pettibon decided to leave Gonzaga, a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference stronghold whose campus sits several blocks away from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to St. Mary, a MIAA B school whose small campus is down the street from the Maryland statehouse.
Petitbon, an Annapolis resident, who grew up with several St. Mary’s students and attended varsity basketball games while a student at Gonzaga, knew he was at home at St. Mary’s.
On the field, Petitbon transformed St. Mary’s offense this fall.
“He was the missing piece, especially on offense,” said Budroni.
After St. Mary’s defense turned away Concordia on the opening drive, Petitbon guided the offense down the field, capping it off with a two-yard sneak for the game’s opening points with six minutes, 10 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Saints, , answered quickly. Keshawn Mister, who was dropped for a two-yard loss on the first play of the drive, caught a short Jordan Brooks pass in the flat, turned upfield and out-ran the Saints’ defense for a 62-yard touchdown to cap a five-play, 75-yard drive.
Concordia, which struggled offensively in the second half of the team’s first meeting last month at Pascal Field, came right back as Josh Derry hauled in a Brooks toss for a 61-yard touchdown with 7:42 left before halftime. The extra-point attempt was blocked.
Pettibon regained the lead for St. Mary’s, eluding another free-running Concordia defender in the backfield, before beating another defender to the sideline and tightroped his way into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown, putting St. Mary’s back up 14-13, early in the second quarter. He escaped a Concordia defender before hitting a receiver on the sideline for an 11-yard gain and a first down earlier in the drive.
“I knew he could run a little bit, I knew he could throw but he’s hard to tackle,” said Budroni. “He’s special.”
Petitbon dug St. Mary’s out of a first-and-20 on the clinching drive in the fourth quarter, scrambling for 15 yards followed with a 10-yard run. On third-and-19 from 34, Pettibon got into the open field and scooted down to Concordia’s two with 3:16 left in regulation.
The play followed a Concordia timeout to stop the clock.
“They were playing zone coverage, but had a spy on me and their ends rushing upfield,” said Petitbon. “I knew if I made one of the guys miss, there would be no one there for at least 20 yards. It was, ‘make a quick little move, make a guy miss,’ and you have a lot of space to play with.”
“He put the team on his back,” said Concordia Prep coach Joe Battaglia, whose team failed fourth down pass play at St. Mary’s 23 with 9:43 left in regulation opened the door for St. Mary’s clinching drive. “He made plays when he needed to and we didn’t execute when we needed to.”
Budroni started to think a perfect season was possible for the Saints after an overtime victory at Loyola Blakefield. St. Mary’s got a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation before Pettibon’s overtime touchdown run was the clincher in a 36-30 decision.
“This was the easiest decision being so close to home,” said Petitbon. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect…it was a risk either way and it turned out the way I wanted and even more.”
MIAA B CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
At Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
No. 7 St. Mary’s 21, No. 8 Concordia Prep 13
Concordia Prep 7 0 6 0 - 13
St. Mary’s 7 7 0 7 - 21
St. Mary’s - Carson Petitbon 2 run (Andrew Marshall kick)
Concordia - Keshawn Mister 62 pass from Jordan Brooks (Ryder Bentz kick)
St. Mary’s - Petitbon 25 run (Marshall kick)
Concordia - Josh Derry 61 pass from Brooks (kick failed)
St. Mary’s - Petitbon 1 run (Marshall kick)