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Saints get it right except for ending in loss

September 21, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

ST. JAMES - St. James football coach Chick Meehan found out how an author with writer's block feels on Thursday.

There was a nice beginning with a little drama and action in the middle. It was all there, except for one thing ... an ending.

"We played a great game," Meehan said. "The only thing wrong was we lost."

So much for living happily ever after. The Saints had Sidwell Friends exactly where they wanted heading into the midway point of the fourth quarter. But the Quakers changed gears with a no-huddle offense - wearing out St. James' defense - to score twice in the final eight minutes for a 14-10 Mid Atlantic Conference victory.

In the end, it was a matter of St. James (1-2, 0-1) giving it away and Sidwell Friends (1-2, 1-0) gladly accepting the gift.

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That put an end to a superb defensive effort by the Saints, who contained Sidwell Friends' option game until the unveiling of the no-huddle attack.

"We played a great game. We just killed ourselves," Meehan said. "I thought we did a great job defensively and on offense, we did well with the quick plays. We fumbled the ball in the end when we had a first down."

St. James broke through first after playing to a scoreless tie at the half. The Saints drove from their own 49 on the strength of two slant passes from Mike Russ to Jordan Barr to eat up 31 yards. Converted fullback Nick Beardsley finished off the drive with a 12-yard run off right tackle for a 7-0 lead.

St. James added to the lead as Dylan Zimmerman returned a punt 42 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal by Ben Farquhar for the 10-0 lead with 10:22 remaining.

Sidwell Friends answered by unleashing quarterback Alex Fernandez with the no-huddle offense. Fernandez engineered a 10-play, 68-yard march, culminating with a 13-yard pass to Tyrone Stephens, to make it 10-7 with 7:50 remaining.

The fumble, which by consensus was the biggest play, came on the Saints' ensuing drive. St. James had the opportunity to ice the game and moved from its 22 to the Quakers 47 on a five-minute drive. On third-and-3, Beardsley rushed five yards for the first down but lost the ball.

The Quakers drove quickly, with the help of a personal foul by the Saints. Fernandez found Nick Sanders on a 34-yard pass to get to the 1. Fernandez, who finished with 108 yards rushing, scored on the next play and kicked the extra point with 2:20 remaining.

St. James tried one more drive, but it ended when Edward Ernst intercepted a Russ pass with 1:08 remaining.

"We didn't execute well," Meehan said. "A lot of different things happened, but who knows why?"

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