It was not the ending that coach Nick Alexander wanted for his Walsh Jesuit football team, but the Warriors’ season finale 62-24 loss mirrored this season.
Walsh was outscored 28-0 late in the second half against league rival Cleveland Benedictine (9-1, 4-1), which hosted a Division II state playoff game against Brecksville as a fourth seed.
Alexander saw his squad fight to get with in 34-24 despite four turnovers.
When seniors Cam Mayes and Nick Reilman connected on a short touchdown pass, host Walsh had overcome a 20-0 deficit, and sliced the score to 34-24 with 6:58 left in the third quarter.
"We had way too many turnovers against another strong opponent, and the guys battled, but we just could not finish," said Alexander.
"They (the Bengals) have some athletes and there were about six huge plays that impacted the game, but we still had opportunities," Alexander added. "Our kids continued to fight."
Walsh (1-9, 1-4) snapped a 23-game losing streak this fall and a small, but a spirited senior class battled against a monster schedule.
"I think we earned respect this year against an extremely difficult schedule," said Alexander.
"Our senior group battled the entire season and I will never forget this first group of seniors," he added.
A 21-yard field goal by standout senior place kicker Caroline Flessner cut the lead to 20-3 with 5:05 left in the first half, and then Walsh struck again.
Junior wide receiver Ben Ligan caught a pass from Mayes and raced 75 yards for a TD as Flessner’s boot made it 21-10 with 2:11 left.
"That was a great play by Ben [Ligan] and Cam [Mayes] and it could have been a lot closer as Nick [Reilman] was hit from behind while crossing the goal line, and we had a red zone interception," stressed Alexander.
Reilman had six catches for 72 yards and two TD’s from Mayes and the duo missed out on the third TD on a great defensive play by the Bengals.
Another play that stung Walsh came after the Ligan TD as Ron Schultz had a 23-yard TD strike to Chris Gales with 29 seconds left in the first half to make it 27-10 at intermission.
The Mayes to Reilman connection struck for scores twice in the third period, the first TD pass coming at the 10:35 mark to make it 27-17.
Gary Merrill scored on a 1-yard TD plunge for Benedictine to push the lead to 34-17 at the 7:45 mark.
That’s when Mayes hit Reilman on another scoring pass to cut the lead to 34-24 with 6:58 left in the third.
Star back Jalen Edwards added a pair of scoring runs in the third stanza as Benedictine extended its lead.
Meanwhile Mayes ends his Walsh career as one of the finest signal callers in Warrior history.
Hitting 12-24 passes, Mayes tossed for 276 yards, three TD’s, and two interceptions. He added 112 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Speedy sophomore tailback Leshon Crenshaw rushed for a career high 54 yards on four carries.
The Walsh defense was led by sophomore linebacker Kasey Kish (11 tackles) and junior linebacker Bobby Perebzak (nine tackles). Kish had seven solo stops.