Culver Academies spoils South Bend St. Joseph homecoming with 14-11 win
SOUTH BEND — The Culver Academy Eagles traveled north Friday to do battle with the South Bend St. Joseph Indians at Father Bly Field under a slight mist of rain. The Eagles spoiled the St. Joseph homecoming with a hard-fought 14-11 victory.
The Eagles opened the game with a beautiful kick return of 33 yards to give their offense great field position on their first drive. The Indian defense looked to have Culver Academy right where they wanted them with an early third down before the Eagles picked up 7 yards and a first down with a run to the right from Max Miller. The Indians would get another chance a few plays later with the Eagles facing another third and 5 before Miller ran for another 7 yards.
The Indians defense would finally get the play they were looking for on the next snap when an arid pass from the Eagles was intercepted. The momentum swing would not be capitalized on however as the Indians drive stalled in just three plays.
The second drive for the Eagles got a big boost on the seventh play of the drive when Trent Lipsett made what could have been the best-looking play of the night. With defenders barring down on what looked like a broken play, Lipsett made a cut to break free for a 15-yard run. Three plays later, Elijah Pack took a handoff into the end zone from 3 yards out for a short touchdown run and a seven-point Eagle lead.
After a quick and uncharacteristically sloppy three-and-out, Culver Academy would take over at their own 34-yard line. The Eagles squandered a chance to extend their lead as they failed to pick up a first down and were forced to punt.
The next drive for the Indians showed an offense that had yet to be seen on the night. After several plays to get the offense rolling, the Indians struck with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Conor Ratigan. On the ensuing extra point attempt St. Joseph faked the extra point and converted for an 8-7 lead. On the following kickoff, the Eagles fumbled the return and the Indians scooped it up.
Despite the extremely short field, the Culver Academy defense held strong. The Indians were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal that extended their lead to 11-7.
The Eagles took the field with a feeling of pressure building. The Indians gave up a big play on a 21-yard reception to Lipsett before a large portion of the yardage was negated on a penalty. As the drive once again looked like it would stall on a third-and-9, Miller connected with Jordon Freeman for a long 65-yard touchdown to give Culver Academy the lead once again with a score of 14-11.
Neither team would muster much of anything else as the 14-11 score would hold firm until halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Indians got a break when a penalty gave them a fresh set of downs and renewed what looked to be a dying drive. Unfortunately for St. Joseph, they could not overcome a key drop as the drive faltered and they were forced to punt.
With the Eagles preparing to score and finally put some cushion between the two teams, senior Noah Hickey intercepted a pass from Miller to halt the Culver Academy momentum. The Indians would then immediately take a shot at the Eagles as John Paul Lewis broke free for a 51-yard gain. The Eagles defense would once again stiffen though as St. Joseph failed to advance any further.
Culver Academy methodically marched down the field towards the St. Joseph end zone. As the third quarter expired the Eagles found themselves facing a third-and-3 deep inside Indians territory. The first play of the fourth quarter then resulted in an Eagles first down. Several plays later the Eagles scored what looked to be a big touchdown before it was called back due to a holding penalty. The Eagles could not make up the distance and were forced to attempt a 25-yard field goal. The Indians defense stepped up big as they blocked the kick at the line to give their offense the ball back, keeping the score at 14-11.
The Indians would fail to gain anything of substance on their next attempt as penalties killed the drive before it ever started. The Eagles then took over near midfield and proceeded to eat clock and chew yards. The Eagles pushed all the way to St. Joseph 17-yard line at which point they found themselves facing a fourth and four. Culver Academy elected to go for it before being stopped short.
The defensive stop gave St. Joseph the ball with one timeout and a whole lot of field to go in order to put some must needed points on the board for the Indians.
As the offense looked to be moving the ball with ease a pass sailed and was picked off by Freeman who returned the ball to the St. Joseph 15-yard line. The Eagles would take a few knees to seal the deal and claim the 14-11 win.