November 10th, 2018

Tigers defense stymies Butler

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Tigers defense stymies Butler
St. X shakes hands following the game / photo by Jeff Woods

St. Xavier’s defensive prowess was on display once again Friday night, as the Tigers outlasted Butler 35-20 in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

The defense forced five turnovers and scored two touchdowns to lead the Tigers into the state quarterfinals next week.

“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good football teams and a lot of good players,” said St. Xavier head coach Kevin Wallace. “That defense, the middle of the defense - from the down three to the two inside linebackers and the two safeties – in Kentucky high school football you may find better talent, but all seven of those kids can really play. They have been special, and they’re the main reason we’ve been able to survive the adversity that we’ve faced offensively.”


Butler’s offense had success moving the ball throughout the game, but the Tigers clamped down when it mattered. The Bears made three trips to the red zone in the first half, but came up empty each time and trailed 7-0 at the break.


“It just kept the momentum going. It kept our juice going. It kept the offense flowing. It shut them down, and it was very important in the game,” said St. X safety Sam Boarman. “We got stuck in some bad situations, but we rallied together inside the red zone and just came out with a win.”


Senior safety Jude Carlon was responsible for two of the Tigers’ four interceptions, including one late in the fourth quarter in a one-possession game. He also recorded two interceptions against the Bears in the regular season.


“Jude Carlon doesn’t have any idea how good he can be,” says Wallace. “He’s 6-3, 185 pounds. He can run and jump. He’s so athletic. I hope he tries to walk on somewhere because I think he’s about a year and a half to two years away from being 215 (pounds).”


St. X extended its lead to 14-0 early in the third quarter when quarterback Doug Bodhaine connected with Desmond Andrews-Ogbogu for a 28-yard score. Three plays later, Boarman picked off the pass from Chaz Burks and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, making it 21-0.


However, the momentum shifted toward Butler later in the quarter. Following an Anthony Moretti fumble, Butler running back Jalan Ward put the Bears on the board with a 20-yard touchdown. Minutes later, Butler’s Hosea Knifeley blocked the St. X punt and Samuel Porter returned it for a score. Suddenly, the Tigers’ lead was cut to 21-12.


“Not only did they make a run, but we facilitated the run, and sometimes that’s even worse,” said Wallace. “That can be more demoralizing to than somebody making a play against you because you’ve hurt yourself.”


Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers gave themselves some breathing room when Moretti scored from 12 yards out to extend the lead to 28-12.


It did not last long. Eric Jackson’s two-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive to trim Butler’s deficit to 28-20 with the two-point conversion.


The Bears had the ball twice late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie, but the Tigers’ defense closed the door. Following Carlon’s second interception of the night, Alex Bascom stripped Burks, recovered the fumble and scored the touchdown to give St. X the 35-20 victory.


“I think it’s more of a momentum win,” said Boarman. “Coming together as a team, our offense scored those two big touchdowns, the two defensive touchdowns. It’s just a great feeling.”


St. X will host Male next Friday in the Class 6A regional final. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs 28-13 in the regular season matchup on October 12 and have won four in a row against their crosstown rival.  


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