Opportunistic Tigers Advance
It wasn’t easy at all, but Saint Xavier got it done once again. They haven’t always looked sharp; there have been many mistakes. But there have been very bright high points as well, and the Tigers keep finding a way to stay alive.
St. X defeated Manual for the second time this season, 12-7, in the second round of the 2014 Class 6A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl. This time, however, Tiger Football earned a victory with one of the oddest plays anyone will ever see.
With the Crimsons holding a 7-6 lead as the second half began, St. X signal caller Noah Houk threw his second interception of the game. It looked like Manual defensive back Antonio Hassell had some running room, but junior St. X receiver Colin O’Daniel was covering ground quickly.
“I just knew when he got the ball that the play wasn’t over,” O’Daniel explained. “I saw he wasn’t holding it right, and I went after it and ripped it.”
O’Daniel forced a fumble, and sophomore phenom Blake Roshkowski picked up the loose ball and scampered 50 yards for a touchdown that completely changed the complexion of the game.
Houk couldn’t get a two-point conversion, but the Tiger defense didn’t need it.
The game started perfectly for St. X, who started the game on defense. On the first play from scrimmage, senior Tiger defensive end Will Edwards forced a fumble and recovered it.
St. X started its first offensive possession in the redzone, but could muster only a 29-yard field goal from Michael “Big Foot” Bennett. Bennett would hit another field goal before halftime to make the score 7-6 in favor of the Crimsons.
“[Manual] isn’t scoring in the second half,” sophomore St. X manager Patrick Wantland said at halftime.
He knows his guys well.
Saint Xavier’s defense flexed its muscles when it mattered most, as they have many times before. The Tigers snared three interceptions in the second half, and they were all at the most opportune times.
Jackie Arnold got his sixth pick of the year, Tyler Boarman stopped a redzone drive by Manual with a leaping grab, and Logan Butler sealed the game with an interception with just over a minute to go in the game.
“We just started reading their quarterback more,” Butler explained. “We knew if we just came off a few times, he would make mistakes.”
Houk repeatedly gashed the Crimsons with his legs, rushing for 96 yards on just nine carries. His effort was especially important because St. X was without two of its top running backs. John Martinez missed the game with a finger injury, and TaiJon Smith injured his quadriceps on his second carry of the game and did not return.
Now, St. X is faced with a second meeting with archrival Trinity. Game time is set for 7:30 PM next Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
We will have much more coverage this coming week, so stay logged on, Tiger Nation.
Go Tigers! We Are!