The St. Ignatius Wildcats needed to play close to perfect football to win Friday night against a challenging opponent in Jesuit-Carmichael (Sacramento County), but they were ultimately undone by penalties and a red zone turnover.
The Wildcats failed to capitalize on two takeaways, were flagged for seven penalties and lost a costly fumble in the third quarter as they fell to the visiting Marauders, 17-7.
Trailing 7-0 following a defensive battle in the first half, the Wildcats needed a spark to bring their team to life. Jesuit running back Anthony Seibles lost the ball on a run up the gut, and the fumble was recovered by linebacker Alex Hartigan, who had missed his team’s season-opening win over Palo Alto with an injury, to give SI possession at the Jesuit 36.
That momentum slipped away from St. Ignatius (1-1) moments later. Quarterback Mac McAndrews connected with receiver Moe Barnum on a slant route, but as Barnum seemed poised to put the Wildcats in the red zone, the ball was jarred loose by cornerback Cormac O’Flaherty and Caleb Dixon recovered to give the Marauders possession at their own 7-yard line.
The Wildcat defense punched back before the end of the quarter when junior safety Atticus Moustakas intercepted a CJ Lee pass and returned it to the Marauder 35, but the turnover did little to move the needle. A sack and pair of completions quickly forced a punt and sent possession back to Jesuit (2-0).
From there, the Marauders bled eight minutes off the clock with a series of runs by Seibles and Tatum Pappas. A false start on fourth-and-goal at the 1 kept Jesuit out of the end zone, but Caleb Dixon’s 26-yard field goal opened up a two-score lead for the visitors with just 3:04 remaining. McAndrews was sacked by Garrett Risley on the first play of the following drive, and after three incompletions, Jagger Shaddix twisted the knife with a 24-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats did avoid a shutout, scoring on a McAndrews 10-yard pass to Barnum with 33 seconds left.
“We need to build on consistency,” St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia said. “Consistency in the kicking game, consistency in our alignments, consistency in our execution. Regardless of the phase of the game, we have to be consistent.”
“We played a really good opponent and we saw a great fourth quarter game which was a good test for us,” Regalia added. “We know we’re gonna be in fourth quarter games this year, and that's exactly what we had tonight. Now we have that experience and we have to make sure we’re executing all the way through the game.”
The Wildcats did get a solid defensive performance, making a pair of stops on fourth down and forcing two turnovers, but two long Jesuit drives defined the game. The Marauders traveled 80 yards over six minutes and seven seconds in the second quarter, riding a pair of third down conversions to breach the end zone before halftime. Lee’s 21-yard pass to Jonah Luhrsen on third-and-14 brought the visitors to midfield, and he fired a 13-yard strike to Seibles with 28 seconds left in the half for the game’s first score.
The Wildcats will look to bounce back next week in their last non-league matchup of the season and their first away game of the year as they visit St. Mary’s-Stockton. The Rams handed SI a 38-10 loss last year, fueled by the performances of wide receiver Jadyn Marshall (now at UCLA) and defensive lineman Jahzon Jacks (now at Fresno State).
Questions, comments or concerns about this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org