A special teams mistake and costly turnover deprived St. Mary’s of its initial win of the young football season.
After fumbling the opening kickoff and allowing a pass interception to be returned for a touchdown late, the Knights were unable to recover from that disastrous bookend effect and lost to host Sandra Day O’Connor, 22-13 at Jack Dillard Stadium on the O’Connor campus.
The Knights’ defense was stellar, limiting the Eagles to four first downs and a net of 46 yards rushing. Plus, the defense stopped O’Connor running back Zach Rizzo on a fourth and goal from 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was tremendous, but the offense could not get going,” said Knights coach Eddy Zubey. “We need more movement from the offensive line, and since I coach the offensive line too, I need to take a look at myself.”
Disaster on the opening kickoff foreshadowed doom for the rest of the game.
The Knights’ Patrick Barefield took the ball inside his 5-yard line but was hit and fumbled as he crossed the 10. The Eagles’ Zach Davis recovered, and on a third-and-2 play from the 3-yard line, George Krashev rammed in for the touchdown and 7-0 lead with just 1:25 off the clock.
St. Mary’s managed to tie it up at 7 when quarterback Lukas Treffers hit Barefield over the middle with a 25-yard touchdown with 2:38 remaining in the opening period.
Later, the Knights came within one, at 14-13, after Laron Tarkington scored on a 13-yard run with 1:17 left in the third.
Then, that bookend effect.
First, O’Connor picked up a safety when St. Mary’s snapped the ball, from punt formation, out of the end zone for two points with 8:52 left in the final period.
The Eagles then closed the books on this one when Brendan Erickson picked off junior Fredrico Joseph’s pass down the left side line and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown with 1:32 remaining in the game.
“Because the offensive line struggled, we could not get our option game going,” Zubey said. “Right now, it’s a time to rethink things and get back to the drawing board.”
For St. Mary’s, Tarkington had 57 yards rushing and a touchdown on 21 carries. The quarterback duo of Treffers and Joseph combined to complete 12 of 20 passes for 131 yards.