Recap: St. Xavier 17, Ballard 0
This wasn’t your ordinary game. The heat forced the contest between the Saint Xavier Tigers and Ballard Bruins to end after just a half, but it didn’t stop St. X from beginning the season on the right foot.
With heat index readings of up to 106 at different points during the game, the 17-0 score in favor of the Tigers at halftime had to become the final score. Under rules, the maximum heat index that football can be played at is 100. KHSAA rules dictate that if a game is started and not finished, it can be considered an official game, as long no reschedule date is made.
However, before the game ended, St. X certainly showed their promising potential.
“I loved it,” said junior linebacker Logan Butler, who had two solo tackles, one for a loss, and a fumble recovery. “I thought our offense executed very well, and I thought our defense played pretty tough football, too.”
Each team ended its first possession with a punt. When St. X got the ball back for the second time, the offense made quick work of Ballard’s defense. After a couple of runs by senior tailback TaiJon Smith, senior Tiger quarterback Noah Houk found junior wide receiver Colin O’Daniel streaking down the right side of the field for a 42-yard gain all the way down to the Bruins’ 3-yard line. From there, Smith banged through the left side of the offensive line and found paydirt.
The first quarter ended with St. X holding a 7-0 advantage. As the second quarter began, the heat really started to set in. Water breaks were frequent, and timeouts were much longer than usual.
“It was a little hot, but during gametime, it doesn’t phase me,” explained senior wideout Michael Ackerman. “Just a cold towel, and everything’s fine.”
Early in the second period of play, St. X made another redzone trip after Houk found Ackerman in the middle of the field for a big gain. The Tigers couldn’t punch it into the endzone, but a Michael “Big Foot” Bennett field goal added three points to the St. X lead.
Moments later, on the first play after the kickoff, Bruin quarterback Kenshawn Washington coughed up the ball in the backfield on a bad exchange with his running back. Butler recovered the fumble and almost broke loose, but he went down at the Bruins’ 14-yard line.
Houk immediately went to the air and hooked up with senior wideout Jaylon Hibbs, who made a spectacular catch over the Ballard cornerback defending him for a 14-yard touchdown. Bennett’s extra point put the Tigers ahead 17-0. Ballard put together one more significant drive before halftime that crossed midfield but turned the ball over on downs after junior St. X safety Mike Ervin slapped away Washington’s pass intended for senior wide receiver Moe Masden, Jr.
Houk finished the shortened game 8 of 15 for 141 yards and the touchdown to Hibbs. He outgained the entire Ballard offense but was not completely satisfied with his performance.
“It wasn’t perfect, obviously,” Houk said. “I made a bunch of mistakes, so I have a lot to work on. Other than that, I was pretty happy with how I played.”
Ackerman led the Tigers in receiving with four catches and 63 yards, while Smith headed the rushing game with 10 carries for 36 yards and a score. St. X was without a significant piece on both sides of the ball, with junior halfback Chase Rowan still nursing a hamstring injury and senior linebacker Dylan McFarland airing on the side of caution and sitting with an aggravated bulging disc in his back. Although the circumstances weren’t ideal, Smith believed it was a positive team effort.
“We performed pretty well,” Smith said. “We moved the ball well. There were a couple penalties that could have been prevented, but I think we did pretty well.”
St. X had 199 total yards to Ballards 89, although the Bruins did top the Tigers in possession time. The Tigers had nine first downs, while Ballard netted only 5.
The Tigers will travel to Lexington next week to take on Bryan Station High School at Lexington Catholic High School. Kickoff is set for 6:15 p.m. at Lex Cath.
As always, Go Tigers! We Are!