FULTON — Players on the St. Bede football team were not hanging their heads Friday in Fulton.
After a 28-20 loss, the Bruins were positive and proud of their effort, heart and fight they displayed against the Steamers in a Three Rivers Conference crossover.
“We had so many mistakes in the first half. We scored at the end of the first half to make it a two-score game knowing we were going to get the ball at the start of the second half,” SBA coach Jim Eustice said. “We made it a one-score game and then they marched down and scored again.
“We were driving to tie the game there. We have a young group and the challenges we’ve put to them each half, we’ve gotten better in all four halves. Last week against Morrison, believe it or not, we did get better in the second half in a lot of areas even though the score didn’t look that way.”
After FHS junior Ethan Rash scored two touchdowns and sophomore Jake Pannell added a third to take a 20-0 advantage with 3:16 in the second quarter, the Bruins began to play as if they had nothing to lose.
SBA (0-2) went on a 10-play drive with four first downs, which ended with a touchdown when junior quarterback Braden Damerell scored on a 1-yard keeper. The score cut the deficit to 20-6 with nine seconds left in the second quarter.
Damerell, who went 11-of-18 for 154 yards in the air and had three rushing touchdowns and 43 yards on nine carries, ended a nine-play drive to end the first possession of the second half with a 4-yard run to cut Fulton’s lead to 20-13.
“We have a lot of talent and speed,” Eustice said. “We utilized it tonight. We were really focused on running the ball inside and we did for the most part. We’re young in the backfield with Ethan Sramek (13 carries for 42 yards) and Noah Setser. To be honest, we don’t have a senior on the offense.
“We came a long way tonight. Losing is not fun, but as young as we are and the improvements we’ve made in two weeks, I have a lot of optimism that we’re going to be a pretty good football team in a couple of weeks.”
However, on the next Steamers’ possession, Rash found the end zone for the third time to boost the lead to 28-13.
Rash scored his four touchdowns on 23 carries for 137 yards. Fulton (1-1) rushed for 291 yards on 37 carries compared to SBA’s 99 yards on 28 carries. The rushing attack helped the Steamers rack up 330 total yards, while the Bruins finished with 253.
“Our running game was pretty good tonight,” FHS coach Pat Lower said. “We thought we could get some yards in certain areas and we did early. They made a nice adjustment and they made it tough for us. For the most part, our run game really helped us control the line of scrimmage and the clock.”
Damerell scored his third and final touchdown with 8:18 left in the game on a 3-yard gainer to make it a 28-20 lead.
The score put SBA in a position to go for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the game. With 1:24 left on the clock, the Steamers stopped the Bruins on fourth-and-5.
The defensive stop led to Fulton rushing two more times and then kneeling the ball.
“We called a timeout when St. Bede had fourth-and-5 to let our kids know it’s one play,” Lower said. “We told them a couple of things we thought they might do with the play. We made one adjustment. Jakob North, on the edge, did a nice job of closing down and not giving (Damerell) an alley to escape out of and made a nice play.
“We made a lot of plays and they made a lot of plays. We just made a few more.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.