Whatever St. John’s Military School did to contain Veritas Christian in the first half didn’t work nearly as well in the second half.
Veritas cruised Tuesday night at the Eagles Nest, 44-14, in the first round of the KCAA state football tournament and extended its winning streak to 20 games.
“It wasn’t like a lot of our other games over the past couple years where a couple of plays were in the end zone,” coach Doug Bennett said. “We had to work for our points tonight.”
In the first half, the game looked like it was going to be a defensive struggle. High-scoring Veritas led 16-0 with just under a minute remaining, until senior quarterback Nick Bennett threw an interception, which St. John’s returned for a touchdown.
The Eagles had a 10-point lead at halftime, but it looked as if the Mule Skinners could hang with the tournament’s top seed.
But that wasn’t the case in the Veritas locker room.
“They think they can beat us,” Nick Bennett said. “We have to step up even more now.”
The Eagles scored on the first second-half possession with a Bennett touchdown from a yard out. They then recovered an onside kick and took the ball down for another score, with Bennett hooking up with junior Andrew Harvey for 27 yards. With the two-point conversion and St. John’s not even having the ball yet in the second half, Veritas led by 24.
Coach Bennett said the offensive surge in the second half had a lot to do with linemen Sam Bear, Bryce Boland and Chris Bolinger stepping up. Fatigue could have also been a factor.
“I don’t know if we wore them out finally in the second half or if we just started executing better,” the coach said.
When the Mule Skinners finally got the ball, they scored their only offensive touchdown of the day from junior Tyler Scott’s run.
The Eagles responded with two more touchdowns and coasted to the victory.
After the game, Veritas found out it was playing against St. Mary’s Academy again in the next round.
“I think both coaching staffs are really looking forward to a rematch after that game where neither defense decided to show up,” Doug Bennett said.
In the teams’ last meeting two weeks ago, Veritas won an 80-72 shootout in its toughest challenge of the season. Nick Bennett said Veritas should be able to slow down St. Mary’s this time around with the confidence it gained from playing St. John’s.
The defense is probably the most important factor in that match-up, Doug Bennett said.
“That’s how you win championships,” he said.
The game will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Nest.