The St. Joseph’s football program is only in its third year, but the team’s loss Friday might be its most heartbreaking yet.
It also might leave a scar in the memories of the Wolves for a long time, one of those games they’ll always remember and cringe at.
Up 8-6 late into the fourth quarter, Upper Dauphin quarterback Aaron Cleveland plunged into the end zone on a three-yard keeper to go ahead 14-8. The score would stay that way despite a flurry of Hail Mary’s on St. Joseph’s final two possessions.
There is, however, light at the end of the long tunnel the Wolves have traveled. At least in St. Joseph’s head coach Dave Carson’s eyes there is.
“I do believe as young as they are they’re starting to figure out how to turn it on to win,” Carson said. “Now, we have to complete it, because we were close. I thought we kind of gave it away.”
They were close to winning their first game this season, but unforced errors did in St. Joseph’s.
“We had three touchdown passes dropped,” Carson said, “You know, you want to be the man out there? You better catch it when that ball hits your hands. We’ve got to take advantage of our opportunities, because we don’t get a whole lot.”
There are pluses the team can take away, starting with a defense that intercepted two passes and had a successful goal line stand at the 1-yard line.
“I thought defensively we did everything we wanted to do,” Carson said. “I thought we had the game plan. I thought the kids played their hearts out. I think they’re starting to get the physicality of the game. We’re just missing that final ingredient to put the other team away.”
The Wolves will have to review their offense, which couldn’t gain traction in the running game and failed to keep quarterback Mike Kresovich on his feet, seeing him sacked 12 times.
“We talked about that a little here (after the game),” Carson said. “That’s one of the areas we’re really young. We know it’s going to take time, but we have to explain to them that we have to take what they’re giving us. If we can take our defensive mentality tonight and use it in our offense, I think things will change.”
St. Joseph’s senior Adam Watkeys scored the team’s only touchdown on a head’s up play near the end of the second quarter.
A pack of Wolves tipped an Upper Dauphin punt that went for just seven yards to the 23-yard line, where the ball rested for a moment in front of Watkeys, who was setting up to block for a return by Charles Ross. Watkeys scooped the ball and outraced Upper Dauphin’s punt team for the score. Kresovich connected with Ross for the two-point conversion.
“He’s got a nose for the football,” Carson said. “That’s the second or third time he’s made a big special teams play. He’s been a nice addition this year. It’s only his first year of football.”
The Wolves defense’s only first-half blemish was giving up an eight-play, 75-yard drive it allowed in the first quarter. The drive ended with Upper Dauphin’s Mason Weist breaking several tackles and tip-toeing down the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked.
“I think if we take this game, understand we had chances and came up a little short, we can feed on it,” Carson said. “We have to carry over this effort into the next one.”