Veritas Christian tailback Hogan Randall busted off tackle, cut back and raced down the middle of the football field into the end zone.
A 56-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage was exhilarating, but it was hardly a harbinger.
“They quickly changed some things,” Randall said.
St. Mary’s Academy plugged some holes and came back for a 28-20 victory over Veritas in a KCAA eight-man semifinal Tuesday night at the Eagles Nest.
All in all, Randall wound up with some glossy statistics. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
But St. Mary’s shut down speedster Ethan Scott, who went in with a team-high 27 touchdowns. Scott did catch six passes for 62 yards, but rushed for only 18 yards.
“Some of the plays we count on, they took away from us,” Veritas coach Doug Bennett said. “We played well enough defensively, but their defense was a little bit better than ours.”
Three weeks ago in St. Marys, Veritas had stunned the Crusaders, 44-20, defeating the perennial KCAA power for the first time in the six years the Eagles have had a football program.
“Last time I think they were overlooking us because we’d never beaten them before,” Randall said. “This time they were more prepared. They knew how to stop us.”
After Randall’s long TD gallop, the Crusaders grabbed an 8-6 lead late in the first quarter by grinding out 40 yards in 12 plays. Neither team scored in the second quarter, but St. Mary’s struck quickly just after intermission.
On the Crusaders’ second play, Matthew Kaiser broke a couple of tackles going around the left side, then outraced the pursuit into the end zone.
St. Mary’s 14-6 lead didn’t last long, however. On the Eagles’ next possession, quarterback Nick Bennett tossed a 10-yard pass to Andrew Harvey to climax a 57-yard drive that started with Randall’s 32-yard run.
Late in the third quarter, St. Mary’s struck again on a short Kaiser run that finished a 73-yard drive fueled by an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty against Veritas.
Then St. Mary’s added the clincher with 3:23 remaining by marching 47 yards after Bennett threw an interception. Down 28-12, the Eagles weren’t done, however.
Randall rumbled in from 16 yards out with 1:55 left, giving the Eagles at least a chance to tie if they could recover the onside kick. But they couldn’t, and St. Mary’s ran out the clock.
Veritas finished with an 8-2 record, best in school history.
“I don’t think this game takes anything away from our season,” Randall said. “This has been a great year, and I know I left everything out on the field.”
Bennett felt the same way.
“This hurts. We wanted to get to the championship game,” the Eagles’ coach said, “but every one of them gave everything they had.”