Walsh Jesuit football puts up fight vs. rival Archbishop Hoban
Despite a costly fumble that put Archbishop Hoban behind in a game for the first time all year, Knights coach Tim Tyrrell kept calling Victor Dawson’s number.
The end result was a 27-14 victory at Walsh Jesuit and an unblemished record.
Dawson, a senior running back, coughed up the football near midfield as the Knights (5-0) were nursing a six-point lead in the third quarter Oct. 1.
Moments later, Walsh Jesuit quarterback Matt Natale found senior receiver Dom Grguric twice for big gains, getting the Warriors (4-1) down to the Hoban 1-yard line.
Junior tailback Will Rumple then plunged into the end zone and, suddenly, the Knights found themselves in an unfamiliar position — losing a game.
“I don’t mind ever being down — last year we were down 14-0 to these guys,” Tyrrell said. “Walsh always plays us great; it’s a rivalry. We just can’t put the ball on the ground, and the only way to learn that is to continue giving him the ball.”
After the Knights' ensuing possession sputtered out, the Warriors drove into Hoban territory again before a Natale pass was intercepted by junior De’Vonta Baskerville, who returned the ball to the Hoban 41-yard line.
Dawson then got the ball six consecutive times and capped the 59-yard drive with a 31-yard touchdown run to put the Knights back in the driver’s seat. Later in the fourth quarter, after another Knights interception — this one by senior AJ Kirk — Dawson scored again, this time from 14 yards out.
“It gives me hope for them to not give up on me and to continue to trust me to make big plays,” Dawson said. “We knew that we had the opportunity to win — we just had to execute.”
Tyrrell admitted it wasn’t the Knights' best game.
On a short week after a win over rival St. Vincent-St. Mary the previous Friday, Tyrrell said his players didn’t come as prepared as he would’ve liked for Thursday’s game. But six days after holding the Irish to just nine points, the Hoban defense proved suffocating again, snagging four interceptions and recovering one fumble against the Warriors.
The Knights were especially dominant early in the game. The Warriors gained just 5 yards on their first possession and, had it not been for Hoban’s muffed punt return, their second drive would’ve sputtered out in three plays, too. Then, after Walsh Jesuit took over at its 48-yard line on the muffed punt, Kirk recorded the first of his two interceptions.
That turnover led to the first score of the game after the running back tandem of sophomore Lamar Sperling and Dawson marched the Knights down the field with first-down carries of 11 and 19 yards, respectively. After Dawson converted on a fourth-and-1 play, senior quarterback Shane Hamm faked a pitch and scrambled toward the middle of the field, then reversed course and rushed into the end zone untouched for a 4-yard score.
Junior quarterback Scott Kean got the start for the Warriors, but Natale took over early — only to see Knights senior linebacker Mike Hayden intercept a pass that slipped out of his hand and return it roughly 37 yards for a touchdown.
After the interception, though, Natale settled in to end the first half on a strong note. Near the end of the second quarter, the Warriors took advantage of two pass interference calls and an offsides penalty en route to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Natale to Grguric.
The Division II Region 5 first overall seed, the Knights received a bye into the second round of the upcoming playoffs. Tyrrell said that, despite having the opportunity to play a regular-season game next week, the Knights will instead focus on themselves in practices with fundamentals of football and “get better between the ears.”
Walsh Jesuit is a No. 5 seed in Division II, Region 5 and also has a first-round bye. The Warriors will play the winner of next week’s game between No. 12 Eastlake North and No. 21 Garfield Heights.