Veritas Christian was driving for what could have been a game-tying score when the Eagles lost their senior quarterback - and their momentum.
Trailing defending KCAA state champion St. Mary's Academy by eight points, Veritas was driving when senior QB Ben Balman ran to the right side and was hit hard.
He stayed down, clutching is right ankle, and was forced to leave the game. On the next play, the snap sailed over replacement QB Josh Masrud's head for a loss of 14 yards, and then Masrud was sacked for a loss of seven, forcing Veritas to punt.
St. Mary's then ran off three straight touchdowns to claim a 48-28 victory, its third straight win over Veritas.
"It is getting kind of old, but we did well this game," Veritas senior linebacker Ben Reynolds said. "This is the best I think we have played them."
Reynolds and Veritas were victims of big plays. The first four St. Mary's touchdowns came on one-play "drives."
"That was the difference in the game, and our missed tackles is probably what hurt us the most," Eagles coach Doug Bennett said.
St. Mary's scored on its first offensive play, after Veritas went three and out. Running back Seth Jacobs took a handoff up the middle and went virtually untouched for the 47-yard touchdown.
Veritas responded two drives later, on an eight-yard pass from Balman to Craig Bell.
The Crusaders scored two more touchdowns before Veritas scored again, this time on a two-yard Reynolds run.
The Eagles tied the game quickly after halftime, when Balman and Bell hooked up again, this time on a 17-yard score.
The Eagles secondary was carved up, thanks to 6-foot-4 wide receiver Kelly O'Neill, who caught eight balls for 294 yards and two touchdowns.
"He has good height and good speed," Bennett said. "Our best cover guys is 5-7, and that is a tough match-up for us."
The Eagles may have a chance for redemption in the first round of the KCAA playoffs, Bennett said.
"If you had looked at our team at the beginning of the season, and looked down the schedule, you would have never thought this would have been a competitive game," Bennett said. "Even though we lost tonight, I feel like our team showed improvement. If you take away those missed tackles, who knows what would have happened."
Balman finished with 98 yards on 22 carries and completed seven of 17 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. He returned after being injured, but was not effective.
Veritas will remain at home next week in its regular-season finale against Heartland.
"Next week is important for us to stay healthy," Bennett said. "We have some guys banged up from tonight. We have to get our quarterback back to 100 percent."
St. Mary's Academy 48, Veritas Christian 28
St. Mary's 14 6 14 14 - 48
Veritas 8 6 6 8 - 28
S - Seth Jacobs 47 run (Stephen Varnado run)
V - Craig Bell 8 pass from Ben Balman (Balman run)
S - Kelly O'Neill 43 pass from Gabriel Riccomini (run failed)
S - Jacobs 61 pass from Riccomini (run failed)
V - Ben Reynolds 2 run (pass failed)
V - Bell 17 pass from Balman (pass failed)
S - Stephen Varnado 57 pass from Riccomini (O'Neill from Riccomini)
S - Varnado 11 pass from Riccomini (run failed)
S - Timothy Seelbach 1 run (run failed)
S - Varnado 29 run (O'Neill from Riccomini)
V - Bell 12 pass from Josh Masrud (Bell from Masrud)