Photo credits to Jeff Chapman and Patrick Lam
On Friday night, the football team lost to the Sacred Heart Prep Gators in a close overtime defeat 21-27.
Despite a strong start, the Bears were quickly handicapped after junior quarterback Xander Eschelman was injured early in the first quarter. Regardless, junior backup quarterback William Roberts stepped in, who, paired with a strong run game from senior running back Jordan Masuisui, spurred the Bears offense with strong runs.
Where the Bears really shined, however, was on defense. With a few minutes remaining in the first quarter, junior safety Kareem Franklin recovered a Gators’ fumble, and ran it 91 yards to the endzone for a touchdown to score the first points of the game. Unfortunately, senior kicker Aiden Mulcahy’s extra point was blocked, putting the Bears up six to end the first quarter.
The Gators started the second quarter with the ball at the Bears’ 29 yard line, however an impressive interception in the endzone by senior safety Oskar Flodh with 9:10 remaining in the second quarter kept the momentum up for the Bears.
Unable to capitalize on the turnover, the Bears fumbled the ball halfway through the second quarter. After multiple punts from both sides, the first half ended with M-A up 6-0.
The Bears battled multiple injuries throughout the night, facing blow after blow to their confidence. “There’s no question that everyone put their heart out, it was just unfortunate with injuries,” said senior wide receiver Alek Marshall.
The third quarter began with the Gators in possession of the ball, but, after an impressive fourth down stop by the Bears’ defense –led by junior defensive end Devin Hyde and senior safety James Gray– the Bears gained possession again.
An interception thrown by Roberts quickly gave the Gators the ball back on the Bears’ eight yard line. The Gators then ran the ball in for a touchdown with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, putting them up 7-6.
After multiple turnovers, Senior and third-string quarterback Thomas Scott replaced Roberts for M-A, but was unable to score for the remainder of the third quarter, and the Gators led by one heading into the fourth quarter.
Both offenses stepped up in the fourth quarter, with Scott repeatedly connecting with both Marshall and junior wide receiver Angelo Marin as they flew down the field.
The Gators struck first in the final quarter though, after an impressive third down stop by the Bears’ defense, the Gators were forced to settle for a field goal. In a surprise move, they faked the defense out, scoring a 14 yard touchdown from a fake field goal and increased their lead to 14-6.
The Bears responded quickly, with multiple quick Scott to Marin connections pushing them down the field, capitalizing on a nine yard passing touchdown to Marshall, cutting the lead to 14-12. The Bears’ momentum continued with a successful 2-point conversion from Scott to Marshall in the back of the endzone, resulting in cheers from the Bears’ student section.
Eschelman said about Scott’s performance, “I’m really proud of the way that everyone rallied, and at the end, Thomas Scott had an outstanding performance, people don’t understand how hard it is to do what he just did.”
However, the Gators’ attack continued, with a 40 yard passing touchdown, putting them back up 21-14.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Scott connected with van Loben Sels for a 5 yard passing touchdown, tying the game at 21, and forcing overtime.
In High School football overtime, each team begins at the other team’s ten-yard line, and after each team has had an opportunity to score, the first team to score wins.
Despite starting with the ball, the Bears’ fatigue was evident, allowing multiple sacks to send them back to the 26 yard line. On third down, Scott was intercepted giving the Gators the ball at the 10 yard line.
Unfortunately, the Bears’ defense was unable to hold the Gators, allowing them to score on a rushing touchdown to end the game 26-21 in a heartbreaking loss on homecoming night.
Many Bears were emotional at the end of the tough loss, “It hurts a lot, we practiced so hard, they’re a rival team we really wanted to beat, but in the end, we couldn’t pull through,” said Gray.
Next week, the Bears will travel to face the Mountain View Spartans on Thursday at 7 pm.