St. Michael the Archangel had a lot of firsts in its first week of school. The first football game will not go down as a memorable one.
Marred by the inability to move the ball on offense, St. Michael made its debut with a 44-2 loss to University Academy Charter Friday night at Lee’s Summit North.
“Obviously we want to win every one,” said Guardians’ head coach Kevin Page, “but we didn’t get that done tonight. They had a lot of great athletes over there, and I take my hat off to University Academy. They made some good plays. They got their playmakers the ball. I’ve got to do a better job of getting the Guardians ready. No excuses. We will get better.”
The offensive struggle showed up from the start. After the St. Michael defense held its ground on fourth down on its own 5, quarterback Alec Alaiwat got sacked in the end zone for a safety by Ryan Wilson, who gave the Guardians fits all night.
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In all, the offense went backward 60 yards in the first half.
“We were really tipped,” Page said. “We didn’t run enough plays offensively, put our defense in some bad position spots. We had some things we thought would work. We had a couple of things that would work, but we just did too many negative plays. Once again, that falls on me. We’ve got to do a better job. We can’t wait for tomorrow to keep getting better.”
The only two first downs the Guardians got in the first half came from University Academy penalties, and they suffered another safety in the second quarter.
The Gryphons scored back-to-back touchdowns in 11 seconds. University Academy got the ball at midfield near the beginning of the second quarter after an interception. They ran four plays for a touchdown pass from Jaylin Whitelaw to Ryan Pritchard to go up 8-0, then took advantage of a fumble by Danny Irick on the ensuing kickoff. Whitelaw threw a similar over-the-top pass to Pritchard and put the Gryphons up 14-0.
Dominic Setser recovered the first fumble for the Guardians with 35 seconds left in the second on another fourth down in the red zone, but Angelo Goro gave it right back, fumbling two plays later. The defense held strong once more with Andrew Drake picking off Whitelaw in the end zone.
“We kind of went into half thinking that we had a nice stand down there,” Page said. “We got the interception right before the half, did a good job of stiffening up and keeping them out. At halftime we talked about how we’ve got to get a few plays to get started, and our first two plays of the second half were decent, were successful, but we’ve got to keep grinding.”
Alaiwat found Setser for a 25-yard gain right out of the half for the first earned first down, and then found Drake to move the chains again.
Then another special teams miscue cost the Guardians field position after stalling out. The snap on the punt attempt didn’t quite reach Drake the punter in the air, and Wilson tackled Drake on the 13-yard line, setting up another Gryphon touchdown to push the lead to 28-0.
The mistakes led to some heated emotions. Nathan Luke got ejected after a slight altercation with the Gryphons, and slamming his helmet down in the fourth quarter.
University Academy never went for an extra point, instead opting for a two-point try with a swinging gate formation after each touchdown. The Guardians held them on four of their six attempts.
The SMA offense somewhat got going for two drives in the second half, gaining 47 yards in the half.
St. Michael did get on the board with 2:29 left in the game when Goro sacked Eric Riley in the end zone for a safety.
“It’s great to get on the board,” Page said. “Everything is going to be little milestones along the way. The first points scored in the history of our school.
“That’s a sign of what we need to do, because the kids kept playing. They kept fighting hard. Angelo Goro got that safety I believe, and he played every snap defensively. We were blitzing him a lot and he kept grinding.”
Looking for their first win, the Guardians go to Hogan Prep at 1 pm Aug. 26.