Sports: Football Falters Against SHP

Photo Credit: Tyler Finn

Junior quarterback Royce Branning scrambles away from the Sacred Heart defense, but the Bears could not avoid their first PAL loss

Despite the incorporation of a new blocking scheme and a four game winning streak, the Bears fell 14-7 to crosstown rivals, the Sacred Heart Prep Gators. The loss drops M-A into a tie for first in the PAL with SHP.

The game began as a defensive struggle, with neither team able to move the ball effectively. From the outset of the game, the Bears demonstrated their new-look offensive line, with a number of players moving from their initial positions before the snap. However, the SHP defense was not fazed, and stifled the M-A run game. The first quarter ended scoreless, but Sacred Heart was driving.

Near the beginning of the second quarter, the Gators ended up in field goal range on fourth down, and lined up to attempt a kick for the game’s first points. But a botched snap kept the game scoreless and created a buzz on the Bears’ sideline. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Royce Branning dropped back to pass, but was hit as he threw, causing an errant pass that resulted in an interception near midfield. The Gators went back to work, nearly converting a long throw over the middle into a touchdown. Nevertheless, SHP methodically marched towards the Bears’ endzone, and, rushed into the endzone from two yards out, making the score 7-0. This score held into halftime

The Bears refused to lay down, and Branning orchestrated an effective drive towards the end of the third quarter, hitting senior Evan Perkins for a 20 yard gain that would set up a nine yard rushing touchdown by Marcus Hill with just under a minute remaining in the quarter. Entering the final frame of play, the game was tied at seven.

Both defenses held tough at the beginning of the fourth, but the Bears cracked first, allowing two consecutive SHP conversions on fourth down, leading to a seven yard passing touchdown that would seal the game with under five minutes remaining. The Bears made a last gasp effort, but Branning’s fourth-and-one pass was intercepted with just over a minute remaining, thwarting the Bears’ comeback attempt. The game ended 14-7 Sacred Heart.

Branning affirmed that the team will, “get better because of the loss,” and the team remains confident heading into next week’s battle against Terra Nova. The team is still in line to qualify for CCS even if they do not win the PAL championship.