Turnovers in 4th cost Flashes in 16-12 loss

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

GREENVILLE St. Aloysius came out gunning in the first quarter before shooting itself in the foot in the fourth quarter of a 16-12 season-opening loss at Greenville-St. Joseph.

St. Joe used two safeties, a late field goal and two St. Al turnovers in the final quarter to pull out the win in a game that had a combined 16 fumbles.

“It was about as miserable a game a I’ve ever coached through,” St. Al coach Jim Taylor said of the nearly three-hour affair played in hot, humid conditions. “We just became mentally fatigued, and we just could not do the things prepared for for four weeks in the hot sun.”

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St. Al entered the fourth quarter with a 12-9 lead, but St. Joe’s Nate Chew blocked a punt out of the end zone with 8:38 to play to make it 12-11. St. Al fumbled on its next possession after a questionable penalty cost it a first down and the Irish took advantage.

Trey Towles’ 28-yard field goal with 2:36 remaining gave the Irish their first lead of the game, 14-12. An interception and a second safety on Marcus Harris’ sack of St. Al quarterback Ryan Hearn with 32 seconds left.

“We had mistakes, but all in all, we corrected them,” St. Joe coach Butch Inmon said.

The Flashes (0-1) jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter behind the passing of quarterback Dan Muirhead. He was 4-for-6 for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the quarter. His 65-yarder to Clay Simmons on third-and-31 set up the Flashes’ first score, a 22-yard reception by Vincent Banchetti.

After the Irish fumbled at their own 21 on the next play from scrimmage. Muirhead found Aaron George three plays later for a 19-yard score and the 12-lead.

St. Joe (1-0) answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped by quarterback Leo Jennings’ 6-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal to make it 12-6 and added a 38-yard field goal by Towles with nine seconds left in the half to make it 12-9.

The Irish caught a break on the play before the field goal. Quarterback Todd McGee, subbing for a cramping Jennings, spiked the ball at the St. Al 23 to kill the clock, but the ball was moved up about 11/2 yards. Towles’ field goal narrowly cleared the crossbar.

In addition to several questionable spots and calls, the officiating came into play at a crucial point late in the game. Leading 12-11 with just over six minutes to go, St. Al running back Walker Hengst ran 15 yards to the St. Al 35 for a big first down. An altercation ensued and when the smoke cleared, only a holding penalty on St. Al was enforced and the Flashes were back in a third-and-long from their own 20.

“I don’t think the game was well administered,” Taylor said. “It was about as frustrating a game as I’ve ever been in.”