DANVERS — As it has been several times over the past two-plus seasons, it was once again the Johnny Thomas Show Saturday at Cronin Stadium.
The senior running back from Peabody was unstoppable in gaining 263 yards on 31 carries and scoring three touchdowns, leading St. John’s Prep to a 36-22 victory over visiting Brockton.
Thomas found the end zone on runs of 29, 1, and 4 yards to terrorize Brockton for the third straight time; he did so against the Boxers during both the regular season and the Super Bowl in 2012.
“I’m in good shape and can go both ways. I’m prepared for that,” said Thomas. “I saw little holes between the tackles and went through them.
“This (game) was do or die; we had to win. We all had to dig deep.”
Senior fullback Greg Kobelski also had a big day for the hosts, catching a 22-yard touchdown pass from Michael Geaslen and barreling into the end zone from a yard out on the Eagles’ final score.
St. John’s Prep (1-1) had a 14-10 lead at intermission, but the Boxers went ahead, 16-14 midway through the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Aaron Leclair. But for the second straight week St. John’s blocked an extra point kick and Sam Sutera came up with the ball.
That’s when the Eagles’ defense took over to guarantee their first win of the season.
Brockton junior quarterback Patrick Burke, who was starting for the first time, fumbled on his team’s next three possessions. St. John’s recovered all three times and converted the opportunities into 22 points to put the game away.
“Mistakes were killing us earlier,” said Prep head coach Jim O’Leary. “We practice these things, then don’t do what we should; basic things like kickoffs. But our defense played much better. Our defensive ends were coming, and Sutera is a bear on the edge.”