October 6th, 2018

Tigers use strong defense to beat Male

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Tigers use strong defense to beat Male
file photo by Mark Sims

The final score may not reflect it, but the Tigers’ defense pitched a shutout Friday night.

St. Xavier (5-2) gave up just one first down and 51 total yards in a 25-7 win over district foe Manual (4-3). The Crimsons’ only score came in the form of an interception returned for a touchdown.

“We’re a big, physical group,” said St. Xavier head coach Kevin Wallace. “I think we’re really good against the run and I thought we matched up well against Manual with what they do. I’m really proud with how physical we were.”

Manual’s only first down occurred in the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but decided. The Crimsons finished the night 0-for-6 passing while the Tigers forced three turnovers.

“We play as a unit. We communicate, we are all responsible for our own stuff, we rely on each other,” said senior linebacker Patrick Owen. The coaches put together a great game plan every single week for us and we execute it and it works out. I love my defense.”

On the flip side, the Tigers’ offense was sloppy, committing five turnovers on the night. Wallace thinks his team still had the Trinity win on the brain.

“Incredible number of turnovers and obviously that’s disappointing,” he said. “I think our mental focus was similar to what it had been most of the week.

“We were in a Trinity hangover until Wednesday. We have to get better at handling week to week stuff. Hopefully, we will this week.”

A bigger concern for the Tigers moving forward is the status of quarterback Keegan Sullivan. He left the game late in the second quarter with an apparent left leg injury. He was eventually carted to the locker room and returned to the sidelines on crutches.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” said Wallace. “We’ll say our prayers and hope that he’s okay.

“I don’t really have the words to express the hurt I feel for him. And not just our football team, but for him because he’s such a good, young man and works so hard. Sometimes life is not fair and like I said, we’ll say our prayers and hope that he’s okay.”

The Tigers opened the game on fire. Following a three-and-out by Manual, St. X marched right down the field in five plays for an early 7-0 lead when Sullivan found Aric Lyons for a 13-yard score.

Then the Tigers hit a wall and committed three turnovers on back-to-back-to-back drives. They eventually added to their lead when Jeff Sexton drilled a 28-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the second quarter.

Sexton was arguably the unsung hero of the night. The junior was a perfect four-for-four on the night, including a 42-yarder to begin the second half.

“I describe it as a guy who is a key weapon for us,” said Wallace. “In the beginning, he had some tough times. And that’s an emotional deal for a kicker because you’re out there all by yourself and you either have success or complete failure. There really is no in between. To watch him go to work every day and have the success he’s had is really gratifying because he works his rear end off, he’s a great young man, and I’m really happy for him.”

Junior quarterback Doug Bodhaine entered the game late in the first half for the injured Sullivan. He threw a pick six to Manual’s Darren Miller, but Bodhaine rebounded in the second half. His 52-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a 22-7 lead late in the third quarter.

The Tigers visit Male next Friday, a game that will likely determine the Class 6A, District Three title.


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