For the second straight week, the Friends football team put a quality team in a two-score deficit, this time against No. 24-ranked Benedictine at home.
But unlike last Saturday against No. 20 Doane, the Falcons lacked a finishing blow in a 28-15 loss in one of 10 games in the inaugural KCAC-Heart of America conference challenge.
“We get up 9-0 and it felt like we unplugged,” Friends junior Sid Melugin said. “We got up 12-0 last week and did the same thing. For some reason, we just weren’t able to keep it up.”
After pulling out a dramatic victory over ranked Doane last week, Friends was maybe too comfortable with the lead.
When the Falcons were on, like they were when Carlos Cox returned an interception 75 yards for a 9-0 lead in the second quarter on Saturday, they proved to be more than capable of clashing with a Top 25 team.
But it was later, when desperately-needed plays never materialized that the Falcons watched their 9-0 lead morph into a 28-9 deficit.
“We would have an offensive lineman blow an assignment, then all of a sudden the backs wouldn’t block somebody,” Friends coach Monty Lewis said. “Then (quarterback) Aaron (Hansen) made a bad read and threw a pick. We took turns by position not executing.”
Friends had three possessions where it could have added to its 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but had two 3-and-outs and a drive stall out at the Benedictine 21-yard line.
Given the opportunity to stick around, Benedictine capitalized by scoring a 36-yard strike from Bill Noonan to Christian Haack just before halftime to cut the Falcons’ lead to 9-7.
“You add 14 to that nine and now that’s a pretty big hill to climb against anybody,” Lewis said. “We just didn’t take care of business when we needed to and we left the door open.”
Meanwhile, Benedictine’s offense didn’t panic after a lackluster start and used the score before halftime as a spark for the second half.
The game turned in the third quarter when Benedictine went from trailing by 2 to leading 21-9 in a matter of two minutes, piecing together a scoring drive then scoring again after an interception set them up deep in Friends territory.
“We have enough experience and enough veterans that we trust that it’s not going to keep happening,” Benedictine coach Larry Wilcox said of the slow start. “We just hung in there and waited for our opportunities.”
Friends knows it is capable of finishing out victories like the one that escaped them on Saturday, and Lewis hopes the loss serves as a wake-up call to the team moving forward.
“We know we can be scary good,” said Melugin, who caught Friends’ only offensive touchdown of the game. “I strongly believe we can be a great team. We’ve just got to cut out the mistakes.”
FU—Nixon 24 field goal
FU—Cox 75 interception return (Hansen pass failed)
BC—Haack 36 pass from Noonan (Keenan kick)
BC—Fore 1 run (Keenan kick)
BC—Fore 6 run (Keenan kick)
BC—McGrew 5 run (Keenan kick)
FU—Melugin 10 pass from Hansen (Hansen pass failed)
Rushing—Benedictine, Fore 18-73, Lorang 2-44, McGrew 10-10, Henness 1-6, Dana 2-4, Albomonte 2-2, Noonan 2-(-6), Haack 2-(-13); Friends, Hankerson 19-44, Scott 3-12, Hansen 5-7, Bauer 3-6, Rogers 1-2.
Passing—Benedictine, Noonan 15-27-1-245; Friends, Hansen 18-37-2-183, Bauer 1-1-0-20, Hankerson, 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Benedictine, Haack 4-81, Ossai 2-60, Walton 3-54, Jackson 2-28, Reek 2-13, Albomonte 1-6, Fore 1-3; Friends, Taylor 7-84, Allen 5-51, Hyde 4-33, Becker 1-13, Brandon 1-12, Melugin 1-10.