Eagles unable to overcome late charge by Episcopal Knights

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The football team fell to Episcopal 28-21 on Friday, September 18. This was the Eagles’ first loss of the season and came at the mercy of a late offensive onslaught by the Knights.

The team’s record now stands at 3-1 on the season. The Knights opened scoring as they put together an 80-yard drive at the beginning of the game to go up 7-0. Episcopal quarterback Preston Heard found sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for the early touchdown pass.

After the Eagles got the ball, they were rolling down field thanks to some nice passes by senior quarterback Michael Keating. Senior running back Rowdy Hinckley also burst up the middle for two big runs, before the drive stalled in Knights territory. The team lined up in a punt formation, but faked the Knights out, as senior David Jones, cornerback and receiver, caught the snap and fired to junior receiver Jhamon Ausbon for a first down.

The Knights, still reeling from the fake punt conversion by the Eagles, could not keep the Eagles out of the end zone, as Keating connected with Ausbon on a beautiful 20 yard pass. Episcopal drove downfield on their second possession, but were stuffed deep in Eagles territory, thanks to a vicious hit by senior cornerback Patrick Leyendecker.

The Knights then missed their field goal attempt, and the first quarter drew to a close with both teams tied at 7.

When the second quarter began, STH picked up two quick first downs on strikes from Keating to Ausbon and senior receiver Drew Guidroz. They then failed to convert on third down and were forced to punt, pinning the Knights back to their own 20-yard line. The Knights struggled to get anything going on offense and had to punt from their own 45-yard line. When the Eagles got the ball back, they too could not find a rhythm offensively and punted the ball back to the Knights with a little under seven minutes left in the first half.

The two teams traded possessions, thanks to great hustle by both of their defenses. A field goal attempt by the Knights during the closing seconds of the first half sailed wide left, and the teams headed into halftime with the score all knotted up at 7. Keating fired a touchdown pass again 3 minutes into the third quarter, and the Eagles went up 14-7. The Knights did not waste time responding. Three plays and a huge 70-yard touchdown later the score was 14-13, after they missed the extra point. St. Thomas then put on the jets and extended its lead to eight points, as Keating scampered in for a 4-yard touchdown. The touchdown run by Keating was set up thanks to a long return by Jones and a big run by senior running back William Heck.

With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Eagles found themselves ahead 21-13.

After a huge interception at midfield by sophomore fullback/linebacker Melvin Larkins, the Eagles took over at their own 45-yard line with 3:40 left in the third quarter. The Eagles drove down close to the goal line as the third quarter ended.

To start the fourth quarter, the Eagles had first and goal on the Knights 2-yard line. Episcopal’s defense held its ground though, and prevented the Eagles from punching it in for another touchdown. Then, the Knights marched 99-yards to score and successfully converted for two points, tying the game at 21. A late interception thrown by Keating set up the Knights at the St. Thomas 25-yard line. After a holding penalty against the Knights and two incompletions, Heard let one go down the middle on third down and connected with his receiver for a 39-yard touchdown pass, which gave Episcopal the lead 28-21.

Hinckley returned the ensuing kickoff into Knights territory, before the Eagles turned the ball over on downs to end the game. The final score was 28-21 Episcopal. Keating racked up 196 yards of offense, 153 of those yards coming through the air, while the other 43 yards were on the ground. He has been responsible for 16 of the 17 total touchdowns scored by the Eagles this season.

St. Thomas had 267 yards of total offense, while Episcopal collected 504 yards in total. The Eagles were unable to put any points on the board for the rest of the second half, after they scored in the middle of the third quarter. Despite the loss, the Eagles have won 33 games and lost only two in the past four seasons.

 

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