Saint Francis head coach Kevin Donley voiced frustration aplenty after his No. 13 Cougars got shut out, 38-0, at Saint Xavier in Chicago on Saturday.
“You name it today, the mistakes, we made them all,” Donley said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Saint Xavier (2-1) posted three touchdowns in six minutes to take control. Stuard Ross threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring with 14:51 left before halftime, then his 1-yard run put the hosts up 14-0. Just 17 seconds later, a 26-yard Jacob Denney interception return for a score extended the lead to 21 points, effectively ending the contest.
“The receiver, it hit him in the hands,” Donley said. “All of a sudden, you have a landslide that started. “They just made plays and we didn’t. We had an opportunity to convert and we dropped balls. We didn’t run the ball well, and we got beat deep in conversion situations. We got beat on a fake punt.”
After rushing for over 100 yards in the season-opening victory at Judson, Will Homan carried the ball just twice for eight yards, including a fumble recovered by Saint Xavier, before suffering a sprained ankle that kept him out for the rest of the contest.
Saint Francis (1-1) rushed for just 46 yards. Quarterback Heath Simmons completed 26 of 41 passes for 205 yards, though he did throw two interceptions.
River Walsh led the Saint Francis defense with 14 tackles, while Dekahri Jones added 2.5 tackles for loss and Luke Robertson forced a fumble. Jack James averaged 44.8 yards on his five punts, but the Saint Xavier defense sacked Simmons six times.
Donley explained he hopes his squad will respond Saturday when Saint Francis plays Siena Heights in both the first home game and first MSFA Mideast League game of the season.
“When you get your tail kicked like this, the only good thing that can come out of it is a positive response,” Donley said. “We play another outstanding football team next week. You either sit there and take it, or you come out swinging and find a way.”