TRAVERSE CITY — Last week they talked the talk.
This week they walked the walk.
After faltering late in a loss to New Lothrop last week, the St. Francis football team declared the need to finish strong.
On Friday, in a tight game against Gaylord, the Gladiators followed through on that.
Behind two 15-play drives that resulted in touchdowns to start the second half, St. Francis bounced back from its season-opening loss by downing the Blue Devils 21-7 at Thirlby Field.
Joe Trucco scored on a 5-yard run in the first drive of the third quarter. Then, after Gaylord answered with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter — following a St. Francis turnover on a bobbled punt return that sliced the Gladiators lead to 13-7 — St. Francis put the game away with another lengthy drive that ended with Byron Bullough pounding in a touchdown from 10 yards out with four minutes to go. Parker Guss found Trucco for the two-point conversion to complete the scoring for the night.
“We came out ready to go,” said Guss. “We just pounded on them. We were just wearing them down and our line did a great job out there leading the way. We went hard there running it and it was a great second half. We got the ball second half so we had to go out there and we had to have a big drive and score to set the tone in the second half.”
It took almost the entire first half for the Gladiators to get their offense going as they failed to get a first down in their first three drives, then fumbled the ball away on their fourth drive. Finally, after forcing Gaylord to turn the ball over for the second time, St. Francis broke a scoreless tie with 27 seconds remaining when Bullough scored from 4 yards out. Jimmy Smith kicked the extra point to give the Gladiators a 7-0 lead at the half.