Lourdes falls in nailbiter against Cross County

Kirt Manion, CherryRoad Media

A pair of fourth quarter defensive stops were the difference in a 58-51 set back for the Lourdes football team in quarterfinal Class D1 playoff action against Cross County at Stromsburg on Friday, Nov. 5.

Looking at the final stats, Lourdes (10-1) finished with 493 yards of offense, 134 of which came in the rushing game.

Blake Miller was 24-of-41 throwing for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Rushing leaders were Aidan Aldana, 59 yards and four touchdowns; Miller, 55 yards; and Joe Kearney, 20 yards. Receiving leaders were Kearney, 140 yards and a touchdown; Zach Tesarek, 104 yards and two touchdowns; Beau Lee, 71 yards; and Aldana, 44 yards. Tackle leaders were Kearney, Miller and Will Funke.

Cross County had 552 yards, almost all on the ground. The Cougars had just 38 pass yards. Carter Seim had 297 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Haiden Hild had 148 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Lourdes found itself down by scores of 14-0 and 28-7 before roaring back, taking leads and nearly pulling off a semifinal securing victory.

Cross County got the ball on offense first and went just four yards on three rushes.

Lourdes turned it over on downs on its first possession and Cross County scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass. The point after made it 8-0 with 7:14 left in the opening quarter.

Lourdes punted on its next possession and Cross County drove 75 yards from its own five yard line in 11 plays, the last play, a rush, covered six yards to the end zone. The point after failed. It was 14-0 with under a minute left in the quarter.

Lourdes would respond with a 65-yard drive. After a roughing the passer call got the ball moving, Miller found Kearney with a 26-yard pass. Aldana would eventually cap the march on a seven yard touchdown. And Caleb Howard’s point after kick had the score at 14-7.

A 41-yard Seim touchdown run made the score 20-7, and, after getting the ball back on a tipped-pass interception, Cross County went back to Seim for a 20-yard scoring run and point after to make it 28-7.

All 65 yards of the next drive were covered in two plays as Miller found Kearney for nine yards and then hit Kearney again with a pass. This time Kearney bounced off the would be tackle attempt and sprinted to the end zone on a play covering 56 yards. Howard kicked the point and it was 28-14 with 6:59 left in the first half.

Lourdes attempted an onside kick and got the ball right back at its own 39 yard line. An 11-play drive ended with Aldana’s four yard scoring run and Howard added the kick. It was 28-21.

Cross County pushed back with a 66 yard drive. Seim had runs of 17 and 30 and Hild eventually scored on a three yard run. A two-point play made it 36-21 with 29.4 seconds left.

Lourdes only needed about 25 of those seconds to score. Miller passed downfield to Kearney who pitched backward to a sprinting Aldana on a play covering 29 yards. And Miller threw to Tesarek for 20 yards for a touchdown with 5.8 seconds left. The point after failed. And the score was 36-27 at the half.

Lourdes received the second half kick and drew to within one point. A 65-yard drive featured a Miller to Lee pass connection for 34 yards and a 19 yard scoring run by Aldana. Miller ran for two points and the score was 36-35 with 10:40 left in the third quarter.

Cross County drove deep into Lourdes territory and, on 4th-and-5, decided to go for it. A pass to the end zone nearly resulted in a circus catch. The ball fell incomplete, however. And Lourdes took over at its own 18.

Miller threw the ball 40 yards to Tesarek for a touchdown and then found Lee on a two point play. Lourdes led 43-36 with 5:59 left in the third quarter.

Cross County answered with a 35 yard touchdown run by Hild. After a two-point play it was 44-43 in favor of the Cougars with 3:01 left in the period.

Lourdes got the ball and scored on a drive that extended from the third into the fourth quarter.

The big play of the march was a pass play where Miller handed off in the backfield to Kearney who then found Tesarek for a 39-yard connection. Aldana ran the ball in from one yard out and Miller passed to Kearney for a two-point play. It was 51-44 Lourdes with 10:47 left in the game.

A Seim run of 16 yards and a Hild run of 30 helped Cross County come back on a 65-yard drive that ended in a Seim two-yard run. Lourdes stood tall on defense and prevented the two-point play, meaning that the Knights were still up one point, 51-50, with 7:53 left.

A scoring drive and a two-point play had the potential of sealing victory for Lourdes as it would have created a two score lead.

The Cross County defense came up big in stopping Lourdes before Miller’s punt had the Cougars starting at their own five yard line.

Seim had a run for 11 and Hild had a run for 12 to get the Cougars away from their own end zone.

Seim later sprinted for a 41-yard touchdown and Cross County added a two-point play which had the Cougars ahead 58-51 with 4:30 left.

Lourdes began its final possession of the game at its own 15. Miller found Lee for 22 yards and the Knights advanced to the Cross County 32 where the team faced 4th-and-2. A rush attempt appeared to have gotten Lourdes the first down, but the ball came loose and Cross County recovered the fumble at its own 30 yard line.

After a pair of penalties, Cross County faced a 1st-and-18, but then got a 31 yard rush to reset the chains and allow the Cougars to run out the clock and advance in the playoffs with a 58-51 win over Lourdes.

After the game, Coach Jon Borer took a moment to speak about the contest and about his team overall.

“Coming in, I knew this was going to be one heck of a high school football game. It was. It lived up to that,” said Coach Borer.

The coach felt good about the way his team responded to being down early.

“They punched us in the mouth again—two weeks in a row. And our kids rallied. They didn’t panic. They didn’t freak out. They understood what we needed to do and did some really nice things.

“We executed in a lot of ways. There were some things where maybe we left some stuff out there, but I am proud of these guys.”

The Knights were playing at a bit less than 100 percent due to an injury to the team’s star signal caller, Blake Miller.

“Blake kind of tweaked his leg early in the game,” said Coach Borer. “He wasn’t the normal Blake. If we have normal Blake, maybe it’s a little bit different. I am not making any excuses for anything.

“Hats off to Cross County. They’re a very good football team. They do a lot of really good things,” said Coach Borer.

As for the Knights, the coach said his players were ready, not just to play this game, but that they had been ready during the whole season and during all of the team’s practices and weight room time.

“I just can’t say enough about our guys. They bought into what we were trying to do. They bought into all the early morning weights—the crazy drills that I made them go through,” said Coach Borer. “They are one of the most fun groups I have ever had the opportunity to coach. I’ve coached some great kids along the years. This group was, top to bottom, a lot of fun.”

The game on Friday was the last one for the Lourdes’ senior players. The seniors are Blake Miller, Aidan Aldana, Beau Lee, Will Funke, Joe Kearney, Zach Tesarek, Michael Bequette, Caleb Howard, Ryan Roberts, Jared Valdovino, Xavier Gomez and Octavio Lopez.  

“I am going to miss these seniors quite a bit—just great human beings,” said Coach Borer. “They were more than just great players. They were good teammates. They treated each other well. They were good to the underclassmen. They were always first to help in the lunchroom, if something needed to be picked up or someone needed something carried to their car. They’re just good kids. I love them all and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to coach them.”

Members of the Lourdes football team huddle prior to the start of quarterfinal playoff action against Cross County.