Photo by Shawn Byrne.
FLAGSTAFF – The story about the Bourgade Catholic trophy, which is on sidelines with the Golden Eagles at every football game home or away, is that it contains the ashes of the immortal Knute Rockne.
Perhaps Kingman Academy football coach Dan Stroup should have paid closer attention to the football gods before the Tigers surrendered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and allowed Bourgade to celebrate a 28-27 come-from-behind win.
“I take full responsibility,” Stroup said. “I feel really bad for my mistakes. I want to apologize to the players for not giving them the opportunity, my assistant coaches who didn’t make the calls, and to the parents, fans and administration.”
Stroup survived an act of tempting fate when he ran a passing play while leading 27-18 with seven minutes to play. Tiger quarterback Kekoa Makaiwi-Stroup was intercepted, but the Academy avoided trouble when Bourgade (1-0) turned it over on downs.
Stroup then called an option on the very next play, a play the Tigers hadn’t run all game. It was fumbled, Bourgade recovered and 40 seconds later a touchdown and 2-point conversion by the Golden Eagles narrowed the lead to 28-21.
“In hindsight, the smart percentage would have been to run it three times and kick it away,” the coach said. “But in my mind, we were just having a hard time running it.”
On the second play of the very next possession, Academy fumbled it away again and with less than four minutes remaining, the Tigers trailed for the first time in the game, 28-27.
Academy struggled on its next possession and on fourth-and-4 on the Bourgade 48 with 1:20 left in the game, the Tigers were penalized for a false start. Stroup then elected to punt.
“I forgot we were down by one. I thought we were tied,” he said. “The emotion of the game got to me and I spaced out.”
This was clearly a win that the Tigers gave away, literally. Academy lost six fumbles and the interception made seven giveaways.
Senior Jordan McDowell-Seybert had a monster of a game on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 212 yards on 15 carries, including three touchdowns and a longest run of 66 yards. Defensively, he recorded 21 tackles and two sacks.
Senior Clayton Holloway had a game he’ll most likely want to forget, if he hasn’t already. Despite rushing for 122 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, those six lost fumbles are all his. He lost three of them as a punt returner.
“This loss is on me,” Stroup said. “We could have survived the players’ mistakes if it wasn’t for me.”
The Academy defense was stout for most of the game. Trevor Lowry had nine tackles and Dillon Zorn added eight. Andrew Quick intercepted two passes and Makaiwi-Stroup had another. Kannon Butler and Gavin Lowry each recovered a fumble.
Worse news than the loss regards the senior defensive back and tight end Quick. At the end of a 50-yard interception return in the second quarter, he had his knee blown up when tackled. In only two quarters, it was easy to tell he was going to play a major part for the Academy. The on-the-field prognosis is he’s done for the year.
The Academy tries to shake off the horrible loss this Friday at Kingman.
“We’re together. Nothing about us is divided,” Stroup said. “The kids saw their mess ups, and they know mine. We’ll correct them.”