“The quarterback tried to pull it and wasn’t able to pull it; he figured that the fullback had it. The fullback, when he felt our quarterback kind of tug on it at the last minute, he thought the quarterback took it. I don’t think either one of them knew that the ball was sitting on the ground. Everyone was still running the offensive play,” explained head coach Tim Lester.
A 42-yard touchdown pass on Loras’ next drive and the ‘Jays were down by 14.
However, the ‘Jays gathered some momentum in the second quarter and carried it forward into the second half, outscoring Loras 30-3 on their way to a 50-24 win in their season opener.
“We didn’t panic,” said Lester. “Obviously this wasn’t the way I wanted to go, but, in retrospect, I am glad that we had to be in that situation to learn how to react.”
Sophomore Andrew Tubek scored the ‘Jays first touchdown when he found the end zone from two-yard out, capping a 12-play, 61 yard drive.
“When they got up early, we knew that we had to take the momentum away from them and the only way to do that was to just keep scoring and not let up,” said junior running back Scottie Williams.
Junior Joe Furco continued that momentum by finding senior Joe St. Peter for a 52-yard touchdown off a flea-flicker, tying the game at 14.
Loras answered with a scoring drive of their own, finding the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown run to take the lead 21-14.
Furco found senior Josh Schmidt to finish off an eight-play, 59-yard scoring drive. However, the extra point was missed, leaving the score at 21-20 going into halftime.
“The first drive we were terrible, the second drive we were a little bit better, the third drive even better and by our fourth drive, offensively, we had finally got it to where we were clicking,” Lester said. “Offensively, it is always very difficult early on to [get things going] because the timing is so intricate.”
Weather caused the game to be delayed for over an hour early in the third quarter.
“It was hot and miserable early,” Lester said. “And when the storm came through, it cooled it off a little bit, which I think helped us.”
Once play resumed, the ‘Jays took the lead for the first time as Furco connected again with St. Peter for a 61-yard touchdown pass.
A field goal in the third quarter, followed by a three-yard touchdown run by Williams, gave the ‘Jays a 37-21 lead.
“We stayed patient,” said Williams. “I stayed patient as a runner. I didn’t get frustrated or out of whack because the runs weren’t going the way that we thought they would. We hung in there.”
Furco threw for a 19-yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the game, to senior Griffin Gibson.
Loras finally ended the ‘Jays scoring streak by kicking a field goal.
However, Tubek found the endzone for the second time with just under two minutes to put the ‘Jays ahead 50-24.
The ‘Jays racked up 319 yards in the second half and finished the game with 547 yards of total offense.
“We need to make sure that we come out the way we did in the second half and just take advantage of every chance we get to score,” Williams said.
The ‘Jays defense also tightened up, limiting Loras to only 73 yards in the second half after allowing 233 yards of offense in the first half.
“It was our first time, in our defense, and I thought they did a great job,” Lester said.
Furco ended the game 24-of-31 for 358 yards and four touchdowns.
“Early on, he played terrible,” Lester said about Furco’s performance. “The first two drives he missed about two or three easy reads that [Furco] does not miss. By halftime he was 14-18, which is great. He continued that in the second half and made a lot of good reads. He played a phenomenal game: no turnovers, four touchdowns. But, we still need to work on coming out of the gate.”
St. Peter had four catches for 133 yards, including two touchdowns.
“[St. Peter] plays a position that doesn’t really get a lot of balls, but, when they do, they are big ones,” said Lester. “It was fun to watch [him] have some success.”
The combination of Tubek and Williams accounted for 146 yards on the ground. Tubek rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while Williams ran for 72 yards and one score.
Junior Wayne Tuckson racked up 11 tackles on defense while also forcing two fumbles and recording a sack. Senior Jon Janus had nine tackles, and junior Dan Vicari had two sacks.
The ‘Jays will host Olivet College Sept. 10 at 6:00 p.m. in its first-ever night game at Langhorst Field.