November 17th, 2018

St. Xavier Falls to Male 20-10

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 


St. Xavier Falls to Male 20-10
St.X after loss to Male/ photo by Jeff Woods

Injuries plagued St. Xavier for much of the 2018 season, but the Tigers continued to persevere and find a way. However, the injury bug finally bit them for good Friday night.

The Tigers’ season ended with a 20-10 loss against Male in the Class 6A regional final. Freshman quarterback Jack Sivori was thrust into action Friday when junior Doug Bodhaine suffered a knee injury during practice earlier in the week. In addition, senior running back Anthony Moretti left the game in the first half with a left knee injury. The Tigers also lost quarterback Keegan Sullivan to a knee injury midway through the season.  “Three knees on this turf this year and none of them have been in contact situations,” said St. Xavier head coach Kevin Wallace. “I’m proud of our players. We asked them to have great attitude, and we asked them to give great effort. I can’t ask any more from them.

“Where we struggled in this game offensively are the times we did not get much done in the running game. How unfair would it be for us to put this type of game on (Jack Sivori’s) shoulders? This guy hasn’t even played with our varsity but four weeks. He had about an hour and a half of practice to prepare for this. I thought he did wonderful given the circumstances. He’s a competitor, and he’s going to be a really good player.”

The Tigers entered the fourth quarter tied with the Bulldogs despite their misfortune. Male took the lead for good when quarterback Garrett Dennis connected with Izayah Cummings for a 14-yard touchdown with 9:46 to play.

The backbreaker for St. Xavier came when Desmond Andrews-Ogbogu muffed a punt, and the Bulldogs recovered at the Tigers 32 yard-line. Micah Lackey booted a 22-yard field goal with 1:56 to go to put the game out of reach. Earlier in the game, Male successfully blocked a St. Xavier punt which led to another Bulldogs field goal.

“We let special teams beat us,” said Wallace. “We’re better in special teams than that. It’s funny, the bookend of the year, the first game and the last game are the two games where special teams really got us. And that’s inexcusable.”

Male leaned heavily on Dennis throughout the game. He set the tone early when he rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown on the Bulldogs opening drive. Dennis rushed for 43 yards total and threw two interceptions in Male’s regular-season loss to the Tigers.

“Garrett was healthier. He wasn’t healthy in the first game,” said Male head coach Chris Wolfe. “The biggest thing about (St. Xavier) is their secondary is going to make you pay. We wanted to be really careful. We felt like if we could run the ball, but don’t turn it over and don’t give them an easy field, we had a chance.

“Garrett is a winner. He wanted it in the second half, and he carried us.”

After gaining just three yards of offense in the first quarter, the Tigers started gaining momentum late in the first half. Junior running back Logan Davis provided a spark and eventually put St. Xavier on the board with a four-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the first half. The two teams traded punts early in the third quarter until the Bulldogs muffed a punt which was recovered by senior Andre Coleman. That led to a Jeff Sexton 29-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10. On the next St. Xavier possession, Sivori was intercepted by Zahir Jones, which led to Male’s go-ahead score.

Given all of the Tigers’ injuries, it would be easy for the team to wonder ‘what if?’ However, Wallace does not want his group to think that way.

“The word ‘if’ is the most powerful word in the dictionary,” said Wallace. “We can’t live on if. I don’t want our players to live on if. They gave everything they could give given the circumstances that we had. I’m proud of them. We could have executed better, but I don’t think we could’ve had a better effort.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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