The Walsh Jesuit football team came out of the locker room and played physically, with confidence and executed its plays to a T.
Unfortunately, this occurred in the second half of a game after the Warriors were losing by three touchdowns.
Walsh was on the road at Columbus Bishop Watterson Sept. 9 in a non-league game. The Warriors trailed 20-0 at halftime. Their improvement in the second half was too little, too late as they fell 27-14.
"Watterson did a great job of going right at us, especially with the running game, in the first half," Walsh head coach Scott Beigie said. "Their offensive line did a phenomenal job against our defense. They controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the entire first half."
Bishop Watterson took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 22-yard touchdown run that was set up a few plays earlier when Walsh senior quarterback Alex Weitman fumbled the ball away.
The Eagles upped their lead to 20-0 in the second quarter on nine- and 10-yard touchdown runs, the second of which was set up a few plays earlier when Warriors junior fullback Dominic Frisone fumbled the ball away around midfield.
"Even though we didn't score in the third quarter, in the second half we calmed down and got back to our game," Beigie said. "I think our kids recognized that they're a lot better than what they showed in the first half. I think they just made the decision that they needed to step up and execute the way they're capable of executing. It was more mental in the first half than anything."
After Bishop Watterson increased its lead to 27-0 on a 17-yard pass play on the first play of the fourth quarter, Walsh senior running back Josh Bennett got his team on the board with a three-yard touchdown run with 9:50 left. The scoring play was set up by sophomore Tommy Cummings' 81-yard punt return.
The Warriors scored again with 3:27 remaining when Weitman completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior slot player Steve Walko.
The visitors tried a squib kick, but the ball was recovered by the Eagles, who proceeded to run out the clock.
Going into the game, Beigie felt his team had a real chance to earn win No. 1.
"The way we played the first two games of the season, I was definitely anticipating another step forward for us as a team," he said. "Playing two close games, including a heck of a performance defensively against St. Vincent-St. Mary, I felt like if we matched that intensity and style of play, coupled with the good week of practice we had offensively, we could win the game."
Weitman went 13-for-21 for 112 yards and the touchdown pass.
"In the second half Alex really took his leadership role to the next level," the coach said. "He took control of the offense. When you have some turnovers like he's had, you can kind of lose confidence, but he did just the opposite. He completely took ownership of his mistakes and turned things around. Mentally he was sharper than ever."
Bennett carried the ball six times for 22 yards and had four receptions for 17 yards. Walko had three carries for 18 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards.
"Both Josh and Steve did a fantastic job of taking care of the ball, getting the yardage they could and finding the openings," said Beigie. "Those two guys are taking on kind of a new role with this offense. They're asked to know probably, outside of the quarterback, the most of the offense because not only are they utilized as running backs but as receivers, too. Josh is a little more of a bruiser, a power back, while Steve has a little more speed."
Cummings, playing wide receiver, had two receptions for 23 yards.
Wide receiver Brad Johnson and slot player Kamari Spencer, both seniors, each had two receptions for 17 yards.
Walsh Jesuit was scheduled to take an 0-3 record into a non-league game, its home opener, Sept. 16 against St. Francis of Athol Springs (N.Y.), but the result was not available at press time.
Next up for Walsh is another non-league home game Sept. 23 when it hosts with Cleveland St. Ignatius. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.