By Brian McKim
After a rough opening week for the Sacred Heart football team, the Irish rebounded with a solid win over Lawrence-Nelson on Friday at Jug Brown Stadium. SH jumped out quickly, leading 28-6 after the first quarter. The Raiders fought back in the second, closing the gap to 34-18 at intermission. Each team scored once in the third, keeping the margin at 16 heading into the fourth. Lawrence-Nelson outscored SH 20-12 in the final period, but the Irish held on for the eight-point win, 52-44.
Evan Keithley opened the scoring for SH, hitting paydirt from 45-yards out to put the Irish in front 6-0 with 11:12 to play in the first. After a three and out, Keithley scored again, this time from 11 yards away, to put SH in the lead 14-0 with 8:02 on the clock.
The Irish defense forced a turnover on downs on the next series and Keithley crossed the goal line for the third time to put the Irish comfortably ahead 20-0 with 3:29 still to go in the opening quarter. The Raiders finally got on the board with 2:05 to go. A 54-yard pass play set up a three-yard run to cut the Irish lead to 20-6. SH rebounded less than thirty seconds later when Joe Simon caught a 27-yard TD pass from Sam Dunn to give SH a 28-6 lead after the first.
After a Raider TD to open the second, Dunn kept the pigskin for a 38-yard TD run, capping off a 4-play, 50-yard drive to put SH in the lead 34-12 with 6:24 to go before intermission. The Raiders got one last score before the half, cutting the Irish lead to 34-18 as the teams headed off the field.
In the third, QB Dunn engineered an eight-play, 67-yard TD drive, ending with a three-yard QB keeper to put the Irish up by 22, 40-18. Lawrence-Nelson responded with a long drive of their own, a 51-yard, 12-play drive to cut the lead to 40-24 with 1:32 to go in the third.
The Raiders opened the fourth with a quick TD, scoring on a 69-yard pass to cut the SH lead to eight, 40-32. The Irish responded with another clock-eating TD drive, chewing up almost five minutes and covering 70-yards in nine plays. Dunn ended the drive with a six-yard run to make it 46-32 with just 5:15 left on the clock.
Lawrence-Nelson kept fighting, scoring on the first play of the next drive to keep it interesting. With 2:36 on the clock, Dunn sealed the win with a 20-yard TD carry to put the Irish back up by 14, 52-38 with 2:36 to go. The Raiders tacked on one final score with 1:38 to go, but it was too little, too late, as SH held on for the win.
“We tackled better and we were more physical, which helped us win the game,” said Coach Doug Goltz. “Our defense gave up too many big pass plays, but we will improve. Lawrence-Nelson is an experienced team and will win most of their games, so this was a nice bounce-back victory. This week we competed harder and stuck together better.”
The two teams combined for 916 yards, with the Irish holding a 273-120 advantage on the ground.
Dunn led the Irish with 152 rushing and four TDs on 22 carries. Keithley added 87 yards and three TDs on 12 totes. Dunn also completed 15-21 pass attempts for 222 yards and a score.
Keithley was the leading receiver, catching eight balls for 121 yards, while Simon snagged four for 61 yards.
Defensively, Keithley led the charge with 17 stops. Riley Nelson added 13 tackles, one for loss and Dunn finished with 11.
Sacred Heart travels to Waco on Friday to take on the 2-0 Nebraska Lutheran Knights. The Knights have outscored opponents 121-52 so for this season.