St. Francis’ footballers are looking at an uphill battle in order to climb out of the hole they find themselves in this football season after dropping their fourth game, a 12-7 loss to Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights Friday night.
That loss was “heartbreaking,” said head coach Chris Lindquist, adding, “I was very proud of our kids’ effort. They are working very hard and continuing to improve but it has not shown up in the win column yet.”
St. Francis scored first and with a strong rushing offense, controlled the play most of the game, but in the end, Benilde’s balanced attack ruled the gridiron.
Gusting winds suddenly whipped and swirled just as the fourth quarter got underway, spraying rain on St. Francis’ home field – and extinguishing any fight left in the Fighting Saints.
The Sept. 21 game started with a Benilde fumble, recovered by Fighting Saint Nate Svihel and resulting in a touchdown when running back Max Gust carried it into the end zone.
Gust and John Santiago rushed downfield time after time and St. Francis running plays dominated throughout, but plenty of miscues on both sides of the scrimmage line made for lots of give and take throughout the first 24 minutes of the game.
However, Benilde dominated the last minutes of the first half and took advantage of a St. Francis giveaway to score a touchdown with 7:58 to go before halftime.
Benilde’s kick was no good, and so St. Francis clung to its 7-6 lead going into the second half.
When play started again, Benilde took control of the gridiron, but Red Knight errors helped the Fighting Saints maintain a one-point lead.
Spirits were ignited when the Saints’ Brandon Hartzberg ran for a 36-yard return on a Benilde punt late in the third quarter.
St. Francis pushed downfield, and on fourth and five a Fighting Saints passing play looked like first down, but when referees called for measurement, the down was inches short.
As winds swirled and rain came down, an attempted punt was bobbled and Benilde recovered the fumble, pushed downfield, but missed the field goal attempt.
St. Francis seemed unable to respond to Benilde’s misplay – the running plays that served the Fighting Saints so well the first half stalled and the Saints were unable to move.
Benilde took advantage, scoring its second touchdown of the game but failing its two-point conversion attempt.
With 3:19 to go in the game, the Fighting Saints seemed to have lost their fight and at game’s end, walked off the field still winless for the 2012 season.
Next, St. Francis travels to Chisago Lakes for its Sept. 28 game.
Coach Lindquist expects another great effort from his Fighting Saints, but said, “Chisago Lakes has a good team this year and a very tough option attack to prepare for so, we have our work cut out for us.”
Notes from the sidelines
Other Sept. 21 Northwest Suburban and North Suburban Conference games played out like this:
Elk River 14
Maple Grove 20
Coon Rapids 7,
Champlin Park 49
Spring Lake Park 32,
Sue Austreng is at