DAVID CITY — The Shamrock defense came to play, but the defending Class C-2 state champions found a way to break through for the win.
The Scotus Central Catholic football team was its own worst enemy, as it fumbled the ball four times, losing it three times in its season-opening 34-14 loss to David City Aquinas Friday in David City.
On Scotus’ first play from scrimmage, senior Jacob Huss ran for 22 yards around the right side of the line, but there was an injured Shamrock on the turf after the play. Senior offensive lineman Taylor Johnson injured his right leg and had to be helped off the field. The injury cut into the depth on both lines.
“I think we have the makings of a good football team. We just have to fix some things,” Scotus head coach Roger Krienke said. “We had an injury early on that hurt us on the offensive line, and some guys are going to have to step up.”
The Shamrocks were forced to punt four plays later, but senior Derek Lahm pinned the Monarchs at their own 6-yard line. The Shamrocks forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at the Aquinas 45, but were forced to punt again after they got nothing going on the drive.
Again Lahm pinned the Monarchs deep, this time at their own 10. The Shamrock defense again forced a three-and-out, but the offense did nothing with the opportunity and was forced to punt after starting the drive at the Aquinas 42. SCC forced another Aquinas three-and-out to end the first quarter.
On the Monarchs’ next possession, they drove down the field in eight plays from the Scotus 44-yard line, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a two-yard plunge by fullback Seth Hoffman.
The Shamrocks answered the bell on offense on their next drive, but fell short at the end.
Starting at their opponent’s 30, the Shamrocks collected three first downs, but SCC quarterback Lahm was sacked on two consecutive plays by Aquinas’ Mitch Napier, pushing the Shamrocks into a third-and-26 situation.
Scotus nearly picked up the first down on a nicely-executed screen pass, but a fumble after picking up 18 yards to the 17-yard line was recovered by Aquinas’ Michael Byers.
The Monarchs went into halftime with a 7-0 lead, but with the way Scotus was playing defense, the game was still wide open.
“I was proud of our defense. We feel confident in our defense,” Krienke said. “We punted it and played the field position game with them, and we just couldn’t capitalize on short fields. Then they flipped the field on us and turned the game around.”
The Monarchs came out with a physical drive to open the second half, running the ball seven times, with the drive capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Landon Stouffer.
The Scotus offense got off to a hot start, but cooled down quickly on its first drive of the second half. Huss nearly broke loose around the right side but was run down for a 30-yard gain down to the Aquinas 45-yard line. Scotus fumbled the ball on the next play with Aquinas’ Matt Jakub recovering the ball at the Scotus 48.
The Monarchs again drove down the field on the ground with Hoffman punching in the touchdown from one yard out, giving the Monarchs a 21-0 advantage.
“Aquinas is very good football team. They’re well coached, so my hat’s off to them,” Krienke said. “We hung in there, and I thought we played really good football at times, but we had costly breakdowns that killed us. If you have those costly breakdowns, teams like Aquinas are going to capitalize.”
The Shamrocks got on the board on their next possession, as they drove down the field from the Monarchs’ 31-yard line with the drive capped off by a 28-yard touchdown run by Cody Zimmerman with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Aquinas offense kept chugging along, as it drove 54 yards for another score with Austin Svoboda pushing through a pile and breaking tackles for an 11-yard touchdown run just before the end of the third, giving Aquinas a 28-7 lead.
The Shamrocks opened up the final quarter with a nice drive that saw them convert one fourth down, but the drive ended when Lahm was sacked on fourth-and-four.
Scotus’ next possession started at its own 15-yard line, and it didn’t start off smoothly, as Lahm dropped the first-down snap for a five yard loss. An incomplete pass and a penalty followed, leaving the Shamrocks in a third-and-20 from the 5-yard line. Lahm’s third-down pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Evan Kranda.
“We had the one pick, but some of (the fumbles), I don’t know that we forced them, but they’re part of the game,” Aquinas head coach Ron Mimick said. “It’s nice to be in a competitive game. Both teams battled. It was probably a pretty decent high school football game to watch.”
With the game in hand, Aquinas started to send out its younger players to get game experience, but it didn’t stop Scotus from attempting the comeback. With just over a minute remaining, the Shamrocks scored their second touchdown on a 44-yard touchdown run by Jake Gilson.
The Shamrocks were led on the ground by Huss, who finished with 13 carries for 111 yards. Zimmerman had 74 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, while Gilson carried the ball twice for 42 yards and a touchdown. Lahm had a rough game in his first start under center, as he had 10 rushing attempts for two yards after taking three sacks for a total loss of 30 yards. He 2-for-4 passing with 26 yards and an interception.
“We have to capitalize on offense and give our defense a break. They were out there on the field tonight, and they played their hearts out,” Krienke said. “You give Aquinas enough opportunities, they’re going to capitalize. We have a nice offensive line, and we kind of have a running back by committee. But Jake Huss is a special guy, and he’s going to carry us a long way.”
Hoffman led the Monarchs on the ground with 11 carries for 83 yards and two scores, while Svoboda carried the ball nine times for 71 yards and a score. Stouffer ran the ball seven times for 80 yards and a touchdown as well. Aquinas spread out its carries, as 12 players toted the ball, and that’s to keep the defense fresh, according to Mimick.
“I thought Landon Stouffer really played well on both sides of the ball for us, then our two fullbacks (Hoffman and Svoboda) ran real physical and hard up inside,” Mimick said. “They’re real tough fullbacks.”
The Shamrocks found out quickly Friday night that you can’t hand anything to a team like Aquinas that won the state championship and finished 13-0 last season.
“We just emphasized that we played good football at times, but you can’t have the breakdowns, and those breakdowns killed us,” Krienke said. “The momentum shifted, and all of a sudden there’s two touchdowns and the game’s over. You can’t do that against a team that’s favored to win the state championship on their home field.”
Scotus plays host to No. 10 Grand Island Central Catholic next Friday, while Aquinas travels Saturday to take on ninth-ranked Fremont Bergan.
Friday at David City
Scotus (0-1) 0 0 7 7 — 14
Aquinas (1-0) 0 7 21 6 — 34
• SCORING SUMMARY: DCA— Seth Hoffman 2-yard run (Landon Stouffer kick); DCA— Stouffer 4-yard run (Stouffer kick); DCA— Hoffman 1-yard run (Stouffer kick); SCC— Cody Zimmerman 28-yard run (Ryan Fuchs kick); DCA— Austin Svoboda 11-yard run (Stouffer kick); DCA— Ryan Vavrina 16-yard interception return (kick failed); SCC— Jake Gilson 44-yard run (Fuchs kick).
First Downs 10 13
Rushes-Yards 44-264 48-297
Passing Yards 26 0
Passing (Comp-Att-Int) 2-4-1 0-2-0
Total Yards 290 297
Fumbles-Fumbles Lost 4-3 1-0
Punts-Avg. 3-34 4-38
Penalties-Yards 1-5 4-18
• RUSHING: SCC — Jacob Huss 13-111; Zimmerman 10-74; Gilson 2-42; Grant Lahm 2-19; Nick Pandorf 5-8; Derek Lahm 10-2; Tony Zoucha 2-8; DCA — Hoffman 11-83; Stouffer 7-80; Svoboda 9-71; Michael Byers 5-14; Matt Jakub 1-10; Evan Kranda 4-17; Kenton Kobza 2-9; Trev Semrad 2-9; Noah Pelan 2-4; Erik Kobza 3-2; Alexander Reimers 1-0; Zach Krenk 1-(-2).
• PASSING: SCC — D. Lahm 2-4-26-1; DCA — NA.
• RECEIVING: SCC — Nathan Ebner 1-18; Christian Stutzman 1-8; DCA — NA.
• TACKLING: SCC — Ebner 10; Zoucha 9; Garrit Shanle 9; DCA — NA.