In a football game filled with big plays and dramatic moments between Borgia and St. Clair, the biggest play decided the outcome in the final minute.
With the Knights trailing 34-33 and facing fourth down and long from its own 45-yard line, quarterback Justin Baylard escaped pressure out of the pocket and launched a long pass downfield to a wide-open Todd Kleekamp, who made the catch and raced into the end zone with 37 seconds left on the clock to give Borgia a 39-34 victory over the Bulldogs last Friday at Borgia High School.
“It was fourth down. That was it. It was all or nothing,” said Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus. “How did Todd get so open? Justin scrambled so well early in the game and made some big plays. He started to scramble again on that play. Maybe the defender came up a little and we got behind him. Kids make mistakes. It could have been us, just as easily as them.”
It’s the second straight week St. Clair lost in the final seconds of the game after it also happened last week at Hermann.
“We’ve had a few tough losses. I wouldn’t say we’re used to it,” said St. Clair Head Coach Cody McDowell. “I’m proud of the way our kids fought until the end. Some things didn’t go our way. They took advantage of some opportunities and we didn’t. That’s how it works.”
The Knights escaped with the win in the week eight thriller.
“Hat’s off to Cody McDowell’s squad. They had tears in their eyes. We would have been the same way,” Gildehaus said. “They left everything they had on the field and we gave everything we had. We were lucky enough to come through at the end of the game.”
St. Clair held a 34-27 lead after three quarters and the score remained that way until the last two minutes.
With just over four minutes left to play, the Bulldogs had a possession stall and lined up to punt. They faked the punt and attempted a pass over the middle, which was intercepted by Hunter Warmack.
“Hunter made a big play,” Gildehaus said. “If they got that, it’s over. It was a game of inches and a game of fourth downs.”
The Knights took over at the St. Clair 35-yard line with 4:07 left on the clock.
“The fake punt was my call, so that was on me,” McDowell said. “At the time, that’s the look we wanted and that’s how we went after it. Everybody’s to blame on our side of the ball.”
Borgia capped that drive on a one-yard touchdown run by Baylard with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But the extra point missed and St. Clair retained a 34-33 advantage.
Making up for the missed extra point, Borgia kicker Jacob Grellner bounced the onside kick off a St. Clair player, which was recovered by Charlie Smith at midfield.
“Grellner came up with a big-time onside kick,” Gildehaus said. “He practiced that (Thursday) night. He said, ‘Coach, I know what to do.’ So give him credit for that.”
It looked like the Bulldogs had the game won after a pair of sacks, but Baylard and Kleekamp hooked up on fourth down to pull off the dramatic victory.
“It was fourth and a long way. I couldn’t believe how open Todd was, but props to him. Our receivers made plays all night,” Baylard said.
“They got a couple of those long plays early and then we got it under control for a while,” McDowell said. “They got loose and got one behind us. We’ll look at it, learn from it and go on.”
St. Clair got the ball back and completed a hook-and-ladder, but the Knights limited the damage on the play.
“Football is a game where memories are made,” Gildehaus said. “Todd will never forget, his senior year against St. Clair, the last play of the game.”
Borgia accumulated 402 yards, 296 passing and 106 rushing.
Baylard was 11-24 passing for 237 yards and four touchdowns. He carried the ball 21 times for 75 yards and one touchdown.
“Justin missed some passes that were open, but he made plays when we needed them, some big-time plays,” Gildehaus said.
Kleekamp had two receptions that both went for touchdowns totaling 114 yards.
Dominic Struckhoff finished with five catches for 78 yards and one touchdown.
Kelan Winters carried the ball 14 times for 31 yards. He also had three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Tyler Breckenkamp and Bret Snider both had one catch for 19 yards. Breckenkamp also had a touchdown reception. Snider threw a touchdown pass to Kleekamp on a reverse pass.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as I would have liked. They took the outside game away,” Gildehaus said. “This was a game of big plays made by Kelan Winters, Drake Raftery, Todd Kleekamp, Justin Baylard and Dominic Struckhoff. That’s the neat thing about it. There wasn’t just one person. It was everybody making plays.”
Defensively, John Hanneken paced the Knights with 10 solo tackles and three assists.
Logan Bell added five solos, one assist and one fumble recovery. Philip Swoboda registered four solos. Warmack had three solos, two assists and one interception.
St. Clair accumulated 416 yards, 277 rushing and 139 passing.
Skyler Hutchison carried the ball 25 times for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one catch for 26 yards. He’s rushed for 1,379 yards on the season.
“We cleaned up some things up front and it showed,” McDowell said. “Hutch knows what to do when there’s a little bit of a crease. He runs hard. Unfortunately, we still came up short.”
Quarterback Collin Scott was 9-16 passing for 139 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 15 yards on six attempts.
“Scott played better. We did some good things up front. We’ll keep working and keep getting better,” McDowell said. “We did a lot of things well, but we made plenty of mistakes, too.”
Alex Miller finished with three receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 12 yards on two carries. Ian McQueen added two catches for 21 yards.
Harley Love (22 yards) and Kevin Cox (11 yards) both had one catch, both of which went for touchdowns.
Defensively, Jacob Villalobos led the Bulldogs with six solo tackles and two assists. Branden Brown added five solos and two assists.
Keola Bursey collected four solos and five assists. Love finished with four solos and three assists. Jake Oermann had three solos and four assists. Lucas Magruder recovered a fumble.
Borgia scored on its second play from scrimmage on a reverse pass. Snider took the reverse and tossed a 59-yard touchdown pass to Kleekamp just 25 seconds into the game.
St. Clair came right back and scored on its first possession on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Miller.
Baylard fired a 44-yard touchdown pass to Struckhoff to make the score 14-7 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
Baylard then connected with Breckenkamp on a 19-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 21-7 with no time left in the first quarter.
The only score of the second quarter was by the Bulldogs on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Love with 9:23 left on the clock.
Borgia took the 21-14 advantage into halftime.
With a healthy dose of Hutchison, the Bulldogs outscored the Knights in the third quarter, 20-6.
Hutchison scored 38 seconds into the third quarter on a 44-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed, which kept Borgia’s lead at 21-20.
The Knights came back on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Baylard to Winters, increasing the Knights’ lead to 27-20.
Hutchison struck again on a 65-yard touchdown run, pulling the Bulldogs to within 27-26.
St. Clair took the lead with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Cox. Miller scored the two-point conversion on a pass from Scott to make the score 34-27.
The Knights outscored the Bulldogs in the fourth period, 12-0.
With one week remaining in the regular season, Borgia and St. Clair both are looking at road games in week 10, which is the first round of district play.
In Class 4 District 3, the Knights currently stand in sixth place with 31.86 points. The Bulldogs are in seventh place with 28.16 points.
Ladue holds down the top spot with 47.02 points followed by Westminster (42.77), Sullivan (40.96), Union (39.36), Priory (34.06), Borgia, St. Clair and Pacific (18.14).
Week Nine Preview
Borgia plays its likely final home game of the 2013 season against Four Rivers Conference champion Sullivan (6-2) Friday at 7 p.m.
“We need to have a good week of practice and try to have the same kind of success against Sullivan,” Baylard said.
“Sullivan is loaded. Justin Biermann (Sullivan senior quarterback) has been the class of the Four Rivers Conference for years. They just run it right down your throat and say stop us. Can we? I don’t know. We’re going to have to try to keep the ball out of their hands,” Gildehaus said. “We’re at home. It’s senior night. We know it’s an uphill battle. We know they are the favorite. We have a motto, ‘Believe in getting better.’ We’ll see if we can do it against a very good Sullivan team.”
St. Clair hits the road to play Owensville (1-7) Friday at 7 p.m.
“We’re in no position to overlook anybody. We’ll get ready and prepare for Owensville,” McDowell said. “In week 10, we’ll play wherever we’re supposed to go.”
St. Clair 7-7-20-0=34
B-Todd Kleekamp 59 pass from Bret Snider (Jacob Grellner kick), 11:35
S-Alex Miller 12 pass from Collin Scott (Skyler Hutchison kick), 9:29
B-Dominic Struckhoff 44 pass from Justin Baylard (Grellner kick), 3:03
B-Tyler Breckenkamp 19 pass from Baylard (Grellner kick), 0:00
S-Harley Love 22 pass from Collin Scott (Hutchison kick), 9:23
S-Hutchison 45 run (kick failed), 11:22
B-Kelan Winters 38 pass from Baylard (pass failed), 8:32
S-Hutchison 65 run (kick failed), 7:47
S-Kevin Cox 12 pass from Scott (Miller pass from Scott), 2:06
B-Baylard 1 run (kick failed), 2:00
B-Kleekamp 55 pass from Baylard (pass failed), :37