On Nov. 10, the Cadets fell to the Eagles 24-14. This stopped their undefeated season abruptly in the semifinals of the WCAC championship; previously, they were first in their conference and ranked #5 in the nation. Even if a controversial call by the refs might have assisted the Eagles, St. John’s offense, it appeared, could not get into their usual groove.
St. John’s began the game by kicking off to the Eagles, who put no points on the scoreboard during their first drive and punted. The Cadets began at their own 16 yard line and started moving with a nice pass from Sol-Jay Maiava ’20. However, St. John’s soon fumbled in their own territory and Gonzaga recovered on the 33, in perfect scoring position. Luckily, the defense was able to come up with a big stop, holding the Eagles to a field goal. Nevertheless, the Eagles were on the scoreboard first, leading 3-0.
The clock was winding down in the first quarter as St. John’s received the ball. After a 15-yard run from Cameron Ross ’19, the first quarter ended with Gonzaga on top. The Cadets continued the drive with a completed pass to Butler Bryce ’21, which helped them reach midfield. However, an incomplete pass targeted for Rakim Jarrett ’20 led to a punt.
Then, the Eagles riled up their a student section as they got a big gain into Cadet territory. At this point, Eagles’ fans were ecstatic, chanting “We can’t hear you!” This was aimed at the Cadet student section. Gonzaga called another timeout with seven minutes remaining in the first half. They continued to move the chains downfield. They were deep into the red zone, on the three-yard line. It was third and goal, when all of a sudden the St. John’s student section erupted. Quinten Johnson ’19 ran down the sideline and into the end zone. It was a touchdown for the Cadets! They led 6-3, after a missed extra point. They kept their lead going into halftime.
As the Cadets received the ball to start off the second half, it seemed the momentum had finally switched in their favor. However, they were forced to punt, and the Eagles took over and capitalized. They responded with a touchdown of their own, after their quarterback rushed in for a touchdown from the three yard line. Gonzaga took the lead, 10-6.
Things continued to spiral downward for the Cadets, after they took a punt out to the 20 yard line, but soon saw themselves punting it from inside their own end zone, after a delay of game and a sack. Then, the Eagles called a fair catch at midfield. However, there was a flag on the play, calling for the Cadets to punt it again. This time, they weren’t so lucky, as Gonzaga returned the punt for a touchdown, and they led 17-6 with 2:32 left in the third quarter. The Cadets got the ball, but were forced to punt again. To end the third, the Eagles were threatening at midfield, with all the momentum in their favor.
To begin the fourth quarter, the Eagles continued to move the chains. They were chewing up time on the clock by running the ball. They got into the red zone again. However, there was a turnover of downs, and the Cadets got the ball from their own 16 with seven minutes left in the game.
Ron Cook ’19, St. John’s running back, led the team with some great runs, as the Cadets marched down the field. They looked strong as Maiava passed to Jarrett for a touchdown. Down by 11 points, they attempted a two-point conversion. This way, all they needed was a field goal to tie it. With 4:06 left in the game, Johnson secured the pass inside the end zone, and it was good! St. John’s only trailed by three, 14-17.
The Eagles’ attempt to keep the ball in their hands failed, as St. John’s forced a punt after a big sack by Taizse Johnson ’21. The Cadets got the ball and moved the chains. Everyone was helping, as both Cook and Maiava made big runs to keep the Cadets alive. As the Cadets neared the end zone, with over a minute left, they decided to run more, hoping to get a touchdown with little time left for the Eagles to recover. However, this plan backfired, as the Cadets fumbled inside the red zone. The Eagles scooped the ball up and ran it into the end zone. After the extra point wen through the uprights, the final point of the game had been scored, and the Eagles were up 24-14.
The fumble was controversial, as many St. John’s fans claim it was a bad call, as the runner was clearly down. However, Jarrett, wide receiver for the Cadets, said to The Washington Post, “You win games and lose games, and I’m not really upset about the call. If we played like we could have, we could have won like last week. But we didn’t, and so we didn’t deserve to win.”
Now, St. John’s must turn their focus to prepping for next year.