October 1st, 2011
Difficult Second Half Ultimately Dooms Tigers
Tigers surrender 27 unanswered points in 24 minutes
Despite a missed field goal, botched extra point attempt due to a false start penalty and a critical first-quarter fumble just one yard away from tying up the game early on, the St. Xavier High School football team jogged to the locker room down just eight points (14-6) at halftime on Friday night in the 72nd all-time meeting with rival Trinity High School.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, however, the second half would not be as kind or accommodating to a St. X team that was never able to regain its offensive rhythm during the final two quarters of action, leading to the Shamrocks' 41-6 win in the annual rivalry game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
During six second-half possessions, St. Xavier was forced to punt in the first five and then turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth down conversion attempt with 1:34 remaining in the game.
St. X quarterback Alex Mattingly, who was 10-of-26 for 143 passing yards, ran for a team-high 94 rushing yards on 10 carries and was responsible for his team's lone score on a 32-yard scampter for a touchdown with 35 seconds left before halftime, showed limited signs of a lingering injury as the senior gave his team new life late in the second quarter.
After Lemondray Clemons lost the ball on a questionable fumble at the one-yard line and the Tigers down 7-0 in the first quarter, Mattingly energized his team by turning a broken passing play on 4th & 10 into an impressive scurry to the right front corner of the end zone, which came one play after Mattingly was slow to get up as a result of leg cramps.
"He is a competitor," said St. Xavier Head Coach Mike Glaser of his QB. "He's a great young man and he's going to make great plays like that because he's so competitive."
But in the second half, Trinity forced three straight "three and outs" for the St. Xavier offense and made the Tigers pay by scoring touchdowns in its first three possessions of the second half. And before Glaser and Co. knew it, the Rocks owned a 27-6 lead after three quarters.
The Tigers (3-4) finally converted a first down - its very first of the second half - with just over seven minutes to go in the game, but by that point Trinity already led by the 41-6 margin.
"I thought we played pretty well. We didn't make the plays we needed to make," said Glaser. "In the first half we left 14 points on the board, and in the second half we dropped the ball and things early. But the only thing I'm disappointed in is that this is the first game where we didn't play for 48 minutes. Other than that, I'm anxious to play (Trinity) again. I love this football team, but we just kind of gave up (tonight). We got our feelings hurt a little bit and just didn't follow through."
It's tough to put extraordinary emphasis on a single play during a rivalry game such as this one, but the Tigers will likely replay the first quarter sequence over and over in their heads, wondering how the game's direction might have gone had St. X punched in the touchdown and tied the game 7-7, rather than giving Trinity the ball back and eventually falling behind 14-0.
"The fumble hurt. It's called a mistake in life, and you've got to pay for your mistakes," said Glaser. "We've got to be accountable for that."
The Tigers finished with 304 yards of total offense against Trinity. Of those, 161 came on the ground as sophomore Charles Walker continued to show his rising star with 45 hard-earned yards on 11 carries, including an athletic play in the first half where he leaped over a pair of Shamrock defenders to earn a first down.
Defensively, St. Xavier linebackers Deonte Clyburn and George Stone played just about as well as possible. Clyburn (eight tackles) and Stone (six tackles and a sack) did everything they could to slow down Trinity RB Dalyn Dawkins.
St. X was forced to punt five times in the game and committed six penalties - most of which were frustration-related later in the game.
The Tigers still lead the all-time regular season series against Trinity 36-34-2, but Friday's loss was the program's third in a row to the Shamrocks in the rivalry game and gives St. Xavier four losses in seven games this year. St. X hasn't had a four-loss season in decades.
Despite the fact that St. X has now been outscored by Trinity 124-13 in its last three meetings, Glaser says he is already looking ahead
"The goal now is to beat Male and Manual (in district play) and get another shot to play (Trinity) again," said Glaser. "I want to play them in the regional final."
St. X will get its chance beginning next week, as the Tigers host Male at Brother Thomas More Stadium on Oct. 7 (at 7:30pm) and then hit the road for a game at DuPont Manual on Oct. 14 (7:30pm).
For video highlights from Friday's game, visit: http://catholicsportsnet.com/louisville/view_csn_video/225