November 2nd, 2019

Tigers Rally Falls Short Against Bombers

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Tigers Rally Falls Short Against Bombers
Tigers fall short to the Bombers/ photo by Jeff Woods

Tigers head coach Kevin Wallace does not buy into moral victories. But if there was ever a time to believe in one, this might be it.

Trailing 28-0 midway through the first half, St. X scored 23 unanswered points to pull within five of Cincinnati St. Xavier, but ultimately lost 35-30. The Tigers outscored the Bombers 23-7 in the second half, showing a kind of moxie that’s been absent for much of the season.


“I’m really proud of our kids,” said Wallace. “I’m disappointed we lost. I don’t ever want to be in a moral victory type of situation, but when you look at the kind of effort we displayed, the guts that we showed in coming back against a team that’s ranked in the top 50 in the country, hopefully, this is something that we can build off of.


“We could’ve have gotten absolutely destroyed. And that’s what happened to us in the Male and Trinity games. We kind of just said “no mas…no mas!” and got rolled up. It would’ve been easy to do that tonight, so I was proud of our guys.”


The Bombers scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions. On the flip side, it took the Tigers until their fourth possession to get on the board when quarterback Doug Bodhaine connected with Michael Duddey on a screen pass for a 28-yard touchdown. Duddey finished with six catches for 127 yards and a score. The Tigers went into the locker room down 28-6.


“We talked to them at halftime. Let’s not worry about the score. Let’s just see if we can leave here tonight feeling good about ourselves,” said Wallace.


The message worked. The Tigers opened the second half with a seven-play, 55-yard drive, capped by Bodhaine’s touchdown pass to Grant Goodman to make it 28-13. The Tigers’ defense forced a punt, and the offense set up Jeffrey Sexton for a 38-yard field goal to cut the Bombers’ lead to 28-16.


“The highlight becomes our offense because we were able to score some points, but we transformed defensively,” said Wallace. “They were going up and down the field easily. Then all of a sudden we made some plays. We talk all the time that it just takes one guy to make a play and change the momentum of a game.”


Still trailing 28-23 in the fourth quarter, the Tigers punted out of their own end zone, but a roughing the kicker penalty on the Bombers gave the Tigers a fresh set of downs. Five plays later, Bodhaine ran it in from five yards out to make it a one-score game with eight minutes to play.


On the ensuing possession, the Bombers ended their scoring drought and effectively shut down the Tigers’ comeback attempt. Quarterback Matthew Rueve hit Liam Clifford for a 64-yard touchdown to put the Bombers in front 35-23. Rueve threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, all of them to Clifford.


Bodhaine scored his second rushing touchdown of the night with 30 seconds left to make it 35-30. The Tigers’ onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, and the Bombers took a knee to end the game.


“I walk away feeling better than I would’ve felt when we were down 28-0 and getting crushed,” said Wallace. “And that’s the best team we’re going to play. Yeah, I feel better about where we’re at. We still have a lot of improvements to make.”


The Tigers’ regular season ends with a 6-4 record. Their postseason begins next Friday with a home game against Butler with a likely second-round matchup against Manual looming.


“We’re going to have the toughest road of anybody to go through the playoffs,” Wallace said. “For us to advance, we’re going to have to play the top teams in the state one week right after the other.


“We had a really bad night against Male. We had a really bad night three times this year. But it’s a new season, and we can make ourselves feel a whole lot better about ourselves by how we play in November, and this is a pretty good start to that.”


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