Leopards Rally, But Fall on a Heartbreaking Kick
Walsh Jesuit 27, Louisville 26
After rallying from a 17-0 deficit to take the lead, the hearts of Leopards fans were crushed by a 29-yard Ross Martin field goal as time expired giving the Warriors the 27-26 victory on opening night at Louisville Leopards Stadium.
After spotting Walsh a 17-0 lead the Leopards showed some serious heart, mounted a rally, and took lead with 1:15 left in the game. A 6 play 69-yard drive that included a 35-yard pass from Chad Neff to Gavin Lovejoy. Soon after Neff found and hit Alex Schooley in the left side of the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown pass to give the Leps a 26-24 advantage.
However, just as soon as the celebrating started, disaster struck. The Leopards were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play setting the Leopards back 15 yards on the kickoff. A botched two-point conversion attempt followed leaving the score within a field goal for Walsh.
On the ensuing kickoff Crissean Caver returned the ball 41 yards all the way to the Leopards 29-yard-line. With Martin being fourth best kicker in the nation according to rivals.com, the Warriors were already in field goal range. After two solid runs by Brock Jones and Ryan Jun Walsh was in business and they didn’t disappoint as Martin’s kick sailed through the uprights.
But forget all that for a minute, the Leopards were down 17-0. Most teams would have packed it in, most teams would have quit. They didn’t even when adversity hit them straight in the forehead. After being pinned back at the 20-yard-line, the Leopards drove deep into Walsh territory on ten plays. But the drive had hit a speed bump and Louisville faced a 4th-and-17 on the Warriors 21-yard-line. Out of the shotgun Neff looked left then fired into the right corner of the endzone to the double covered Lovejoy. When the dust cleared Lovejoy and the Leopards had their first points of the season. The Leopards would go covert 5 fourth downs in 7 tries before the night was over and after a blocked extra point, Louisville would eventually trail 17-6 at the half.
Pinned back deep again by Martin, the Leopards went on a 12 play 80 yard drive that ended with Neff finding junior wide receiver Trent Ohman. On 4th-and-3 Ohman caught the ball at the 26-yard-line, juked one defender, and then sidestepped another on the way to the endzone. Ohman finished the night with 7 catches for 79 yards.
On the next play Chad Neff rolled out to the right and sacrificially threw his spinning body into the endzone about three Walsh defenders for the two-point conversion. Neff finished the night with 103 yards rushing to go along with his 266 yard passing performance. Louisville now only trailed by a field goal.
The Leps look poised to score again late in the third quarter, but Neff’s 4th-and-4 pass sailed just out of the reach of Connor Ruffier. Walsh marched 71 yards the opposite way and scored on a 28-yard pass from Nick Wargo to Jones. The Leopards again trailed by double digits 24-14.
The Leopards tried a fake punt on their next possession that failed giving the ball to the Warriors near midfield. But the Leopards defense stiffened and force a three-and-out. The Leopards mirrored the Warriors punting after three plays. But a Walsh fumble gave the Leopards the ball on their own 36-yard-line and they took advantage.
The momentum had swung towards the Leopards and seven plays later the Neff lobbed a pass to Lovejoy who again came down with it in the right corner of the south endzone. Lovejoy led all Louisville receivers for the evening with 7 catches for 94 yards. If this played seemed like deja vu for the Leopards fans, the next one eerily did as well. Walsh again blocked the extra point kick leaving the score 24-20.
Walsh’s first two touchdowns came on a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Wargo and a 18-yard run by Jones.
This was all you could ask for in week one. Only four penalties and one turnover by both teams combined ruined what would have been a flawless night on the gridiron. This game had everything from the Leopards 17-point rally to a heartbreaking ending. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for Week 2!
NEXT UP: The Leopards will host the North Canton Hoover Vikings on Friday, September 2 at 7:00 PM.
EDITOR’S NOTE: My preview predication was 27-24 Louisville, it sure looked like I was going to get i there for a minute!
Pictures Taken By Tammy Archer, Dan Davis, & Jared Heller
WARRIORS 27, LEOPARDS 26
1 2 3 4 Total
Walsh Jesuit 10 7 0 10 27
Louisville 0 6 8 12 26
WJ – 9:05 Ross Martin 42 yd Field Goal
7 plays 62 yds
WJ – 1:54 Nick Wargo 2 yd Run
Ross Martin PAT Good
11 plays 50 yds
WJ – 10:37 Brock Jones 18 yd Run
Ross Martin PAT Good
3 plays 54 yds
L – 6:32 Gavin Lovejoy 21 yd Pass from Chad Neff
11 plays 84 yds
L – 7:28 Trent Ohman 39 yd pass from Chad Neff
Chad Neff 2pt Run
12 plays 80 yds
WJ – 10:28 Brock Jones 28 yd Pass from Nick Wargo
Ross Martin PAT Good
5 plays 71 yds
L – 4:32 Gavin Lovejoy 20 yd Pass from Chad Neff
7 plays 66 yds
L – 1:15 Alex Schooley 29 Pass from Chad Neff
6 plays 69 yds
WJ 0:00 Ross Martin 29 yd Field Goal
4 plays 32 yds
Walsh Jesuit – 13
Louisville – 22
Walsh Jesuit – 36 carries for 159 yds
Louisville – 39 carries for 166 yds
Walsh Jesuit – 6 of 11 for 107 yds 1 TD 0 INT
Louisville – 21 of 35 for 266 yds 4 TD’s 0 INT
Walsh Jesuit – 1/1
Louisville – 2/0
3rd Down Conv:
Walsh Jesuit – 4 of 10
Louisville – 3 of 15
4th Down Conv:
Walsh Jesuit – 0/0
Louisville – 5 of 7
Walsh Jesuit – Jack Meadows – 8 carries for 65 yds
Louisville – Chad Neff – 24 carries for 103 yds
Lucas Poyser – 15 carries for 63 yds
Walsh Jesuit – Crissean Caver – 3 catches for 46 yds
Louisville – Gavin Lovejoy – 7 catches for 94 yds 2 TD’s
Trent Ohman – 7 catches for 79 yds 1 TD
Walsh Jesuit – Nick Wargo 6 of 11 for 107 yds 1 TD 0 INT
Louisville – Chad Neff 21 of 35 for 266 yds 4 TD’s 0 INT
Records: Louisville 0-1, Walsh Jesuit 1-0