The Saint Xavier Tigers defeated the duPont Manual Crimsons on Friday night by a score of 36-7, ending the Crimsons’ season and eliminating Manual from the Class 6A football playoffs.
St. X did not have their normal starting quarterback, Jack Albers (#11, 12), due to an injury. The Tigers instead had Keegan Sullivan (#18, 11), who threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Crimsons still lost by a larger margin than when they previously played St. X earlier in the season.
St. X’s offense was strong from the beginning. Manual chose to kick the ball to St. X to start the game, which led to a pass from Sullivan to Ben Mueller (#83, 12) resulting in a 26-yard gain early in the first quarter.
Manual’s defense was unable to stop many of St. X’s carries and passes. Furthermore, Manual’s offense struggled to get a first down, giving possession back to St. X.
“I thought they [Manual’s football team] fought a little bit. But you have got to do all the right things against a team like that [St. Xavier], and we just made a lot of mistakes,” Manual Head Coach Scott Carmony said.
St. X made two touchdowns in the first quarter. One pass to St. X’s Jack Varga (#5, 11) put the Tigers at Manual’s 38-yard line, which allowed Dominic Allgeier (#12, 12) to eventually score St. X’s second touchdown of the night and bring the score to 14-0.
Manual carried the ball on most of their early downs during the second quarter but passed on most of their third downs.
Manual eventually got to St. X’s 34-yard line, but their offensive edge came to an end when St. X sacked Manual Quarterback Zach Recktenwald (#17, 10), forcing Manual to punt at fourth and 19.
“We did a lot of things good, and we fought until the end. We just didn’t do enough right things to win today,” Recktenwald said.
Following the punt, St. X completed several passes down the field. During one pass, Manual’s Marcis Floyd (#2, 12) was able to intercept the ball.
The interception did not take Manual very far; the Crimsons were forced to punt on the fourth down. On the turnover, St. X ultimately transitioned the ball down the field to Mueller, who brought St. X’s lead to 21 with a third touchdown.
“We actually played some decent defense at times tonight. We got a few turnovers, but we couldn’t get much going offensively and couldn’t finish the drives,” Carmony said.
Towards the end of the second quarter, Manual was at St. X’s 13-yard line with four seconds remaining until halftime. Manual’s placekicker, Nick Kopp (#9, 12), made an unsuccessful field goal attempt. A flag was then called on the play resulting in an incomplete pass to Floyd to end the first half.
Manual’s offense showed great improvement after halftime. Aidan Robbins (#7, 11) was able to make a 13-yard carry, and Braxton Cannon (#88, 9) caught a pass, each play giving Manual a first down.
“I thought we fought. We didn’t come out on top, but we didn’t give up. We kept playing to the highest of our ability,” Robbins said. “I gave it all. I tried hard because I do whatever I need to for my team.”
St. X’s defense strengthened, forcing Manual to punt the ball. Soon after the punt, St. X’s Anthony Moretti (#42, 11) carried the ball on a 49-yard touchdown run to put the score at 28-0.
Since Manual was unable to gain a first down after the return from St. X, the Crimsons had to punt the ball back to St. X.
St. X was then able to pass their way to multiple first downs, all the way to Manual’s 15-yard line.
St. X’s Allegier carried the ball to Manual’s goal line. Manual’s defense stuffed St. X for a first down, but the Tigers easily scored another touchdown on their second down.
St. X then passed for a two-point conversion to make the score 36-0, resulting in a non-stop running clock due to the score differential according to KHSAA guidelines. The two teams then plateaued, both having minimal success on their offensive fronts and handing possession back and forth.
Floyd was able to break away and carry the ball for 40 yards to put Manual at St. X’s 27-yard line. Manual’s Deaaron Robinson (#20, 10) scored the Crimson’s first and only touchdown of the night, wrapping up the final score to be 36-7.
Manual finishes the season with three wins and eight losses
“You’re never happy when you’re 3-8, but I thought we made some progress along the way. We had five or six games that, by a touchdown or less, could’ve gone either way,” Carmony said.
“I could’ve done things better, but I’m going to come out next year and work hard,” Recktenwald said.
Both Manual’s coaches and players said that they are now looking ahead to the next season and are planning how to achieve greater success as a team.
“Next season I want to come out bigger, stronger and faster. We’re hoping to be a better team next year and prove people wrong,” Robbins said.
“We’ve got to get back to work in the weight room, and get bigger and better,” Carmony said.
St. X will face Pleasure Ridge Park next Friday in round two of the Class 6A playoffs.