Football team loses opener against Blue Valley West 28-21

The team couldn't hang on to a 14-point fourth quarter lead despite 300 yards of total offense

Ben Wieland and Allison Gourd

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The football team suffered a 28-21 defeat in their season opener against Blue Valley West Friday, Sept. 6. The team, which started the fourth quarter with a 14-0 lead, fell short in their comeback attempt after a BVW go-ahead touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game. 

For the first three quarters, the team controlled the game. They led 14-0 at the end of the third quarter and appeared comfortably in control of the pace of the game. Once the fourth quarter started, though, the floodgates opened for BVW’s running backs. Lead BVW back Riley Cummings rushed for most of his 173 yards and all four of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter. 

Senior running back Tyler Green, who led the team’s backfield with 15 carries for 110 yards, thought the team battled hard but eventually made too many mistakes. 

“[At the end of the game,] we fought extremely well,” Green said. “We just beat ourselves.”

Green thinks his teammates shouldn’t beat themselves up over the demoralizing loss; instead, the team should get back to work. 

“[We need to] just keep our heads up and keep working like we should be and we will be just fine,” Green said. “We’re right there. We just need to get to the next level.” 

The team’s offense got off to a slow start, failing to convert a first down on either of their first two drives. After a 37-yard punt return by BVW to the Jaguar 17, it seemed like the team was about to give up their first score. However, senior linebacker Carson Caldwell came up big with an interception on the first play of the drive, giving the Jaguars the ball on their own eight yard line. 

On the ensuing drive, the team’s young playmakers got the offense rolling. Quarterback Cooper Marsh and running back Quin Wittenauer combined for 92 rushing yards on the 10-play touchdown drive, including a 34-yard carry by Marsh to end the first quarter and a 14-yard touchdown run by Wittenauer to punctuate the possession. The drive put the Jaguars up 7-0 less than a minute into the second quarter. 

The defense forced a turnover on downs to give the Jaguar offense another chance from their own 27. Marsh started the drive strong with his first two completions of the game, a nine-yard throw to senior wide receiver Zach Mills and a 33-yard bomb to junior slot receiver Ty Reishus. However, the drive sputtered out after a sack forced a third and 19, and the team was forced to punt. 

Neither team could string together another scoring drive in the first half, so the team went into halftime with a 7-0 lead thanks to Wittenauer’s 14-yard touchdown carry. 

The team started the second half rolling with a 33-yard kick return on the opening play by Reishus, and they didn’t slow down. Wittenauer capped off the seven-play, 62-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game, and put the team up 14-0 with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter. 

The teams exchanged turnovers near the end of the third quarter, with the Jaguars recovering a fumble at the BVW 44 only to turn the ball back over three plays later on a fumble by running back Tyler Green. 

On BVW’s first play of the ensuing drive, running back Riley Cummings carried the ball 45 yards to the Jaguar 24 yard line. Five plays later, Cummings punched in a four-yard touchdown for BVW on the second play of the fourth quarter, cutting the team’s lead to 14-7. 

After the BVW touchdown, Reishus fumbled the kick return, giving BVW the ball at the Jaguar 18 yard line. Four plays later, Cummings leapt into the end zone for his second touchdown of the quarter on a seven-yard carry. With 10:33 left in the fourth quarter, BVW evened the score at 14. 

After a Jaguar punt, the BVW offense, led once again by Cummings, was able to march down the field for the third consecutive drive. Cummings capped the six-play, 56-yard drive with his third touchdown of the quarter, a play on which he ran up the middle untouched for a 15-yard score. 

Rattling off 21 unanswered points, BVW took their first lead of the game, 21-14, with 6:32 remaining in the game. 

The team needed a spark, and the veteran Green provided it. He bounced a handoff outside and took it up the sideline for a 22-yard gain, bringing the team into BVW territory for the first time in over a quarter. The drive came to a crucial fourth and two from the BVW 34 yard line, but Marsh was able to rush for three yards on an option play and keep the drive alive. 

On the ninth play of the drive, Marsh aired it out once again to his slot receiver Reishus, who hauled in a critical 33-yard touchdown that knotted the score back up at 21 with 2:36 to play. 

The BVW offense got the ball back and quickly picked up where it left off. They marched down the field, converting a crucial fourth down along the way, and with 18 seconds remaining Cummings punched in his fourth touchdown of the quarter from 10 yards out, giving BVW a 28-21 lead. 

The team’s efforts for a last-second miracle score fell short with an incomplete pass to Wittenauer as time expired, and BVW pulled out a 28-21 victory. 

Green and Wittenauer split the team’s carries, with Wittenauer contributing 14 carries for 83 yards and two touchdowns. 

Reishus paced the team’s receiving corps, accounting for 70 percent of the team’s receiving yards and the team’s lone receiving touchdown. He also averaged 23 yards per kickoff return despite his fumble. 

Marsh completed 7 of his thirteen passes for 100 yards and one touchdown in his first career start. He also tacked on 10 carries for 18 yards. 

The team will look for their first win next Friday, Sept. 13 against St. James Academy. The game will be held at Bishop Miege’s football field.

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