For most of the game, the Borgia Knights controlled the St. Mary’s Dragons in a heavy rain at Borgia Athletic Field.
But, St. Mary’s made its final drive pay off with quarterback Gus Dattoli hitting Antonio Burks with a 21-yard touchdown pass with 1:36 to play to give the Dragons (3-2, 2-1) a 16-15 win over the Knights (2-3, 1-2).
“This one hurts,” Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus said. “They’re kids. If you’ve got an answer for how to hold onto the ball, please tell me. They didn’t fumble as much. It was hard to hold onto the ball, but they threw it and we couldn’t. It’s one of those times that happens.”
Borgia held on the two-point conversion attempt, but couldn’t score in the closing seconds as the rain picked up again.
The story of Borgia’s night was an inability to hold onto the wet ball. The Knights fumbled several times, including near the goal line.
The one that hurt came after Chris Broeder returned a punt 87 yards to the St. Mary’s two in the third quarter. The Knights fumbled on two plays in a row and lost the second one.
“It took the wind right out of our sails,” Gildehaus said. “All I wanted to do was to get a snap and do a quarterback sneak and we fumbled that. Then we just wanted to do a simple dive and we fumbled on that. We could have put it away. They couldn’t have beat us.”
For the night, Borgia lost five fumbles and had several others covered. St. Mary’s also struggled with ball security and receivers from both sides couldn’t hang onto passes.
“I’m never pointing fingers,” said Gildehaus. “I know we made mistakes. I know we had to fumble 15 times. The question is why. We’ve practiced throwing a wet ball and we thought we had it down. We went under center, but we still couldn’t get a darned handoff. They’re human and they make mistakes. It’s part of the game.”
Borgia gained 192 of its 214 offensive yards on the ground.
Jonathan Braun led the rushing attack with 15 carries for 130 yards. At times, Braun ran the Wildcat formation with Braun taking direct snaps. It was his first game back after being injured during the second week.
Broeder gained 43 yards on five carries. Dylan Hellebusch had two carries for 16 yards. Jacob Unnerstall ran 14 times for seven yards and Justin Heggemann lost four yards on two carries. Unnerstall and Braun scored the touchdowns.
Through the air, Unnerstall was 4-9 for 22 yards.
Nobody caught more than one pass. Justin Novak gained nine yards, Louis Eckelkamp had eight yards and Quinton Poepsel caught a pass for seven yards. Heggemann had one catch for a two-yard loss.
Heggemann stepped up to kick the extra points and he hit one in the rain.
Borgia was 0-7 on third-down conversion attempts and was penalized six times for 35 yards. The Knights came up with two turnovers.
Borgia defense limited St. Mary’s to 209 total yards with 157 coming on the ground. The Knights were able to win the battle in the trenches much of the night with Borgia being able to overwhelm a bigger St. Mary’s line.
“Everyone played well up front,” Gildehaus said. “We couldn’t get outside like we wanted to and a lot of that came down to handling the ball.”
Defensively, Dylan Hellebusch led the team with 13 tackles and two assists. Braun had 12 stops and one assist. Chris Hellebusch had 10 tackles, including two for loss.
“Chris Hellebusch stepped in tonight for Matthew Sinnott and did some nice things,” Gildehaus said.
Tyler Patton had eight tackles, three assists and two fumble recoveries.
Andy Rott made seven tackles. Joe Schmidt had six solo stops.
Chris Hellebusch made the tackle for the safety which gave Borgia a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. Heggemann and Schmidt also were there on the stop.
“A lot of them played very well,” Gildehaus said.” We had them stopped over and over. How many times did we fumble the ball and hold them close to the goal line. Not many teams could do that. Defensively, we just played outstanding.”
Jordan Grant ran 34 times for 99 yards in the game. Gus Dattoli had five carries for 47 yards, Colin Crimi gained 10 yards on four carries and Corbin Lee ran three times for six yards.
Dattoli completed six of 14 pass attempts for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Burks caught two passes for 24 yards. DeShawn Dunn had one catch for 11 yards, Alex Fesi caught a pass for 10 yards and Justin White had one catch for six yards.
Fesi also recovered a kickoff on the sideline in the fourth quarter which gave St. Mary’s a chance for its final touchdown.
“The bad thing about it is that we win as a team and we lose as a team,” said Gildehaus. “We still had a chance to come back and didn’t get the job done.”
Borgia returns to action Friday, hosting O’Fallon Christian at 7 p.m.
“The sun will come out tomorrow,” Gildehaus said. “When’s the last time you’ve seen a game where it’s rained this much? It’s been a long, long time. We go back to work and we’re going to get that darned win next week.”
The Eagles are winless on the season, losing games to Orchard Farm, Cardinal Ritter, St. Mary’s, Trinity and St. Dominic.
The teams have two common foes so far, St. Mary’s and St. Dominic. St. Mary’s beat O’Fallon Christian, 55-28, and St. Dominic won last week, 28-6.
Brady Tolle is the team’s quarterback and he’s completed 54 of 99 attempts for 634 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.
JJ Simon is the top running threat with 342 yards on 51 carries.
Tolle and Blake Huskey have gained over 100 yards as well.
Ryan Norwine is the top passing threat and he has 23 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Evan Soell is next with 12 catches for 152 yards.
Tyler Rodriguez leads the defense with 56 total tackles. The Eagles haven’t had a sack this season. The team has recovered four fumbles and intercepted two passes.
“This team is not about blame,” Gildehaus said. “We’ve got each other’sbacks. It’s about character building. Now, there is some adversity hitting us. How do we handle it? If I know this team, we’ll have a great week of practice and get back to .500 next week.”