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Warriors Fall in Home Debut to Blujays

by Julian Aramendi

September 25, 2018

Football teams which rush for 218 yards typically fare well in the final result.  The same holds true for those which hold the opposition to -4 yards passing and for those which accrue just over half the penalty yardage as the opponent.  The Southern Cloud Warriors did all three of those things, yet came up empty, falling 46-8 to the Blujays of St. John's-Tipton.

The start was not inauspicious for the host Warriors; after a six-play 55-yard touchdown drive by St. John's, Southern Cloud's Blake Gumm scored on a 60-yard scamper.  Morgan Coleman hit Ryan Paillet with a two-point pass, giving the Warriors an 8-6 lead, marking the first time since 2011 that Southern Cloud led St. John's.

This felicitous circumstance was of exceedingly transitory character; Brayden Perez returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, giving his team a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the evening.  The two-point conversion was good, making the score 14-8 in favor of the visiting birds. 

Bellows returned the next kick 57 yards, setting up his team deep into St. John's territory.  After converting a third down at the Blujay 12, Coleman fumbled the ensuing snap.  After surrendering a first down the Warrior defense stiffened.  Youngster Dusty Mason made one of the better defensive plays of the night, dumping Perez for a four-yard loss on a screen pass.  Two incomplete passes by quarterback Alex Ketter forced St. John's to punt.  The stand amounted to naught, as the ensuing play resulted in another Southern Cloud fumble.  The visitors made the Warriors pay for the blunder two plays later, as Kail Dubbert scored from 14 yards out.  Perez scored the conversion, making the tally 22-8.  A Southern Cloud three-and-out returned possession of the pigskin to St. John's.  Perez, no doubt judging the previous possession to have been protracted and tedious, immediately scored on a 52-yard run behind textbook blocking.  The conversion was stuffed by Jake Comstock and Bellows. The score was thus 28-8.

A fierce, tackle-breaking 14-yard run by Gumm opened the next drive with promise; that potential fizzled as the Warriors failed to gain another first down, forcing a punt.   After converting for a fresh set of downs the Blujays flew into a wall; Comstock dropped Perez for a loss of one, after which two Ketter incompletions obliged St. John's to concede the football.  Ketter expertly punted the ball out-of-bounds at the Southern Cloud five.  Bellows charged right for five yards; on the next play Gumm cut back right for 34 more.  After Bellows gained four yards the Warriors could only eke out one more on two attempts. A fourth-down scramble by Coleman came up short of the line to gain.  Unwilling to allow this lamentable turn to widen the deficit, the Southern Cloud defense stood tall; on third-and-11 Bellows forced and recovered a fumble by Perez at the St. John's 24.  A mishandled pitch turned third-and-six into fourth-and-13; an incomplete pass returned possession to the Blujays.  Once more into the breach went the Warrior defense; consecutive Comstock tackles faced the foe with third-and-11.  An errant Ketter pass forced another stellar Ketter punt; this one rolled dead at the Warrior eight.  Two plays later Gumm sprinted down the sideline for 65 yards to the Blujay six.  Southern Cloud was once more knocking at the door; indeed, the Warriors spent so much time knocking at the door that they could have claimed ownership on the basis of squatter's rights.  In any event the door remained closed; yet another fumble gave the ball back to the hustling Blujays.  Ketter recovered it, as he had the previous two.  With under a minute remaining in the half Dubbert raced untouched for a 77-yard touchdown, a 34-8 tally, and a knife into the heart of Southern Cloud.  The Warriors' Hail Mary pass to end the half was intercepted by Brady Palen. 

The ghastly string of turnovers did not end with the first half; Southern Cloud's first play of the second half was another interception, this time by Jaret Eitzman.  Aided by a tripping penalty the Warrior defense forced St. John's into fourth-and-28.  Southern Cloud could not get untracked after the punt, as Gumm booted it back to the Blujays.  St. John's drove to the Warrior 18, but turned it over on downs.  A 20-yard run by Gumm and an excellent punt flipped the field position, giving the Blujays the ball at their own four.  St. John's worked its way to its own 30, whence Dubbert sped around left end to score from 50 yards out.  Southern Cloud would not gain another first down on the night and Perez punctuated the scoring with a 57-yard dash to paydirt. 

Gumm paced the offense with 185 yards rushing on 14 attempts; he scored Southern Cloud's sole touchdown of the contest.  Bellows added 11 totes for 29 yards; fullback Kaeleb Mock carried once for six; Coleman lost two yards on eight carries, few of them designed.  The sophomore signal caller completed two of eight passes for 24 yards, both to Kaury Stout.  He also threw three interceptions.  Dubbert logged 19 carries for 218 yards; Perez was no slouch, with 17 for 137; Ketter gained 66 yards on eight tries, two of them adroit scrambles.  Eitzman rounded out the rushing with seven yards on four attempts.  The St. John's passers combined for -4 yards on one of nine passing. 

Tackles and assists were as follows: Coleman (12/1), Mason (10/2), Stout (8/4), Ryan Paillet (5/3), Bellows (4/5), Nevyn Gold (4/5), Comstock (2/5), Zach Paillet (1/1), Evan Custer (1/0), Gumm (0/3), and Tony Duggin (0/1).  Coleman and Comstock each notched two tackles for loss; Bellows, Stout, and Mason logged one apiece.  Bellows forced and recovered a fumble; Stout also recovered a fumble. 

Southern Cloud returns to defend its home turf September 28 against the Knights of Lakeside. 


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