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After stumbling a bit early in Friday’s season-opening football game against Chicago Christian, Mooseheart rallied, got back into the game and nearly finished the opening half on level terms – trailing only 20-19.
Whatever good feelings the Ramblers gained from their comeback evaporated in the second half, where the visiting Knights scored 34 unanswered points and won the contest comfortably, 54-27.
“The first half, we had some excellent play. Then in the second half, we just didn’t show up. That’s on us. They’re a great team, but we were hanging right with them and had them where we wanted them and they came out, got ahead of us and we didn’t retaliate,” Mooseheart football coach Jake Pekofske said.
A scoreless game exploded to life late in the first quarter. Chicago Christian took the lead with 2:57 left on a 1-yard Desmond Rodgers run. On the ensuing kickoff, Mooseheart tied the score at 7-7 following an 85-yard kickoff return by Nelson Doe. Chicago Christian took the Ramblers kickoff and scored on its first play – a 62-yard Rodgers run. Only 40 seconds had elapsed between the first and second Rodgers TD runs, and the Knights were ahead.
Chicago Christian extended its lead early in the second quarter on a 50-yard run by Jonathan Griffin.
Then Mooseheart rallied. Alfonso Bailey intercepted a pass and ran 21 yards to score. Then Doe ran in a 26-yard touchdown run and the Ramblers had cut the Knights’ advantage to 1 point.
The second half was lopsided in Chicago Christian’s favor. Rodgers ran in touchdowns of 37 and 40 yards to give him 4 TDs in the contest. Other Knights touchdowns were scored by Josh Purnell, Griffin and Luke Edgar.
Meanwhile, a series of penalties and other miscues cost Mooseheart chances to rally.
“We shot ourselves in the foot way too many times. A lot of big plays got called back. We probably had four or five 40-plus-yard plays called back,” Pekofske said.
Mooseheart scored the game’s final touchdown when Oliver Wah ran in from 44 yards with 1:56 to play. The Ramblers season continues on Aug. 31 with a 7 p.m. home game against Kirkland Hiawatha.
“We’ve been saying since Day 1 that there’s nobody who can stop us but us, and that’s what happened tonight. We’ll go back, watch film and work to correct our mistakes,” Pekofske said.