COLUMBUS — Championship teams find ways to win close games.
That’s exactly what Class C-1, No. 2 David City Aquinas did Friday night.
The Monarchs (4-0) drove 72 yards with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter to set up Trevor Siroky’s game-winning field goal from 24 yards out as Aquinas escaped Scotus Central Catholic’s upset bid with a 17-16 victory at Pawnee Park's Memorial Stadium.
“That’s a classic Scotus-Aquinas rivalry game,” Scotus head coach Tyler Linder said. “You can kind of throw records out the window. There’s a lot of pride on the line there. It’s a knockdown, drag-out matchup.”
“It just would’ve been better if we came out on the winning side," Linder added.
It was redemption for Siroky, who missed from 30 yards out with 8:45 left in the final period after a high snap threw off his timing on the kick. His coach still had confidence in his kicker.
“He’s a good kicker,” Aquinas head coach Ron Mimick said.
Two teams known for ball control and defense looked ready to engage in a shootout early on.
The first quarter alone featured three touchdowns and three turnovers.
After the Shamrocks (0-4) marched 31 yards on their opening drive of the game, a botched snap on a field-goal attempt led to a 60-yard pick-6 the other way for Aquinas by Telegram Super Senior Kyle Ruth.
Scotus came right back with a 77-yard drive capped by Tyler Palmer's 10-yard TD scramble. Eric Mustard scooted 46 yards the play before to set up the score.
After amassing just 92 total yards in a 29-0 loss to the Monarchs last season, Scotus eclipsed that total before the midway point of the first quarter.
Aquinas fumbled the ensuing kickoff after Palmer's TD, giving the Shamrocks prime field position. This time, though, the Monarchs stiffened, forcing a three-and-out.
On their first offensive play of the game, the Monarchs fumbled. The Shamrocks quickly pounced on it and Eric Mustard scored from 6 yards out on the next play, giving Scotus a 13-7 lead after the first quarter.
Aquinas seemed to settle down after that, finally finding an offensive rhythm on the legs of Kyle Petree, who carried the ball 26 times for 132 yards. The Monarchs drove 93 yards to retake the lead, 14-13. Petree ran for 55 yards on the drive.
A field goal with 4:56 left in the first half sent the Shamrocks into the break with a 16-14 lead.
Both teams moved the ball in the second half, but neither could put points on the board. Aquinas threw an interception at the 5-yard line to start the second half.
Scotus drove the ball 69 yards the other way, but eventually was forced to punt.
Siroky’s missed field goal came on the next possession after a 60-yard drive.
It was quite a turnaround performance for Scotus, which entered the game giving up more than 42 points per contest.
“Our offense was our best defense tonight,” Linder said. “We challenged our guys. They showed us they can be right there with the top teams in our class.”
Scotus ran the ball for 230 yards on 39 carries against the Monarchs.
“Tremendous amount of credit goes to Scotus,” Mimick said. “They ran their offense well. I knew their running backs coming into the game were athletic, and they are. We won the football game, but they deserved to win every bit as much as we did.”
Instead, the Shamrocks are left with an 0-4 record heading into district play, but Linder knows Scotus can still end up where it wants to be by the end of the season.
“We can’t dwell on the negatives,” he said. “We have to fix those negatives and carry this momentum and start to perfect the good things.”
The Shamrocks open district play at home Thursday against Grand Island Central Catholic (0-3).
Sept. 15 at Pawnee Park, Columbus
Aquinas 7 7 0 3 - 17
Scotus CC 13 3 0 0 – 16
Scoring Q1: Aq Kyle Ruth interception, Siroky kick. SCC T. Palmer 10 yd TD run, Beierman kick. SCC: Mustard 6 yd TD run, Beiermann kick no good. Q2: Aq: A. Lyons 5 yd TD run, Siroky kick.
Q3: SCC: Beierman 23 yd field goal. Q4: Aq: Siroky 26 yd Field Goal, good.
Team stats Aquinas; SCC
Passing 4-6-63; 7-17-91
Rushing 52-253; 42-238
Total Yds 316; 329
Penalties 7-50; 8-65
Turnovers 3; 2
Passing: Aq: Rech 4-6-64; SCC Palmer 7-14-91
Rushing Aq: Petree 25-123, Rech 10-49; Maguire 7-48; Lyons 7-24 TD. SCC: Mustard 13-130; Palmer 11-54.
Receiving: Aq: Vavrina 3-52; SCC Shanle 1-40; Labenz 2-20; Kosch 2-19.
Tackles (solo, assists): Eggleston 4-9; Siroky 5-2; J. Roh 2-7; Vavrina 3-2; Reiter 2-4; M. Coufal 1-5; Hartman 1-4; Ruth, Petree Rech 1-3; Uhrmaker 0-4; Lyons 2-0.