November 9th, 2019

Tigers Overcome Early Turnovers to Beat Butler

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 


Tigers Overcome Early Turnovers to Beat Butler
Tigers advance in playoffs/ photo by Jeff Woods

St. Xavier can ill afford to play another game like it did Friday night. Otherwise, the Tigers’ season will come to a screeching halt.

 

St. X committed four first-half turnovers and trailed at halftime, but flipped the script in the second half to beat Butler 28-8 in the first round of the Class 6A Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl.

 

“That was a pathetic first half,” said Tigers head coach Kevin Wallace. “We were very fortunate that we played well defensively. They kept us in the game. And in the second half, we held onto the football.

 

“(Turnovers) make me sick to my stomach. It affects how you call the game. It affects everything. The turnovers we had, it’s not like we were getting vicious hits. We were just putting the ball on the ground.”

 

The Tigers’ turnovers came in the form of three fumbles and an interception off a tipped pass. However, the St. X defense rose to the occasion and allowed just four first downs in the first half and eight points.

 

“We just have to keep playing hard. We can’t control what the offense does,” said senior linebacker Hale Bohler, who recorded three sacks. “We just have to play with confidence and do our thing.”

 

Butler could only convert one St. X giveaway into points. Hosea Knifeley rumbled for a three-yard touchdown on 4th and 1 to give the Bears an 8-7 lead late in the second quarter.

 

Trailing at halftime to a team the Tigers beat 42-6 in the regular season, Wallace’s locker room message was simple.

 

“Hang onto the football,” he laughed. “There wasn’t any reason to go berserk. We were playing hard and moving the ball. Just hold onto the ball. Very rarely have I seen that in my career in terms of that many turnovers in that short amount of time.”

 

Once the miscues stopped, the Tigers took control. After snuffing out a fake punt attempt at midfield, St. X needed just three plays to march 49 yards for the go-ahead score. Doug Bodhaine’s 19-yard quarterback keeper put the Tigers back in front 14-8. On their next drive, Bodhaine connected with Luke Spears for a 15-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-8.

 

In the fourth quarter, the Bears’ upset bid was dashed when St. X senior Kenneth Shaffner intercepted Chaz Burks near midfield, which led to a Luke Davis 32-yard touchdown to seal the win for the Tigers.

 

Davis finished with ten carries for 81 yards and a score while Bodhaine rushed for two scores and threw for another. Sophomore Mekhi Smith caught three passes for 50 yards and also rushed five times for 41 yards.

 

The Tigers (7-4) will play at Manual in the second round next Friday night. The Crimsons shocked the Tigers in the regular season, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat St. X for the first time since 1993.

 

“We have our work cut out for us next week. Surely to goodness we’ll do a better job with the football,” said Wallace. “They’re athletic. They’re tough to defend because of their skill. I’d say the main thing I would like to see us do is finish drives. I don’t want to kick four field goals in a game. I’d like to score four touchdowns. If we run a quarterback sneak, we need to make sure we get it snapped rather than fumble it and have them score.”

 

Manual (10-1) advanced to the second round by beating PRP 42-22.

 

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