“It is the little things that can end up killing you sometimes, and tonight we had a couple of those things go wrong and it cost us,” Perry head coach Jason Olejniczak said after the Bluejays fell to visiting ADM, 14-13, in the 2nd Rock Hunger Game.
Perry trailed, 14-0, late in the third quarter before scoring twice in less than a minute, but a botched extra point attempt after the second score became the difference on the scoreboard.
“That is on us as coaches,” Olejniczak said after the high snap resulted in a failed attempt. “We have tried all week to find a steady long-snapper and just have not done so. You can bet we will be working on that all next week.
“However, it would be very unfair to say it was that single play that cost us the ballgame,” the coach was quick to add. “There were dropped passes, missed blocks and other things that all added up. What that means is that we have to play better all around if we expect to beat quality teams like ADM.”
Perry spent much of the first half having to defend a short field. ADM missed a 26-yard field goal try on their first possession, but eventually turned field position into points on a short drive early in the second quarter.
Tiger quarterback Frank Weiland had success all night on short slant passes, and connected with Sam McCartney for a seven-yard scoring strike on a fourth down play 85 seconds into the period. The PAT attempt clanked off the left upright, leaving ADM with a 6-0 lead.
The margin stood up until the 8:49 mark of the third frame when Weiland found Ian LaFollette for a six-yard TD. McCartney snared the conversion pass as ADM widened the gap to 14-0.
Perry kept plugging away and finally began to make headway against an ADM defense that sacked Bluejay quarterback Ryan Rathje eight times for a total loss of 30 yards.
An inside run of 14 yards by Eli Saemisch moved the ball to the ADM 12, from where Rathje found Taviar Lucas, who broke a tackle and dashed into the endzone. Ivan Garcia’s PAT kick cut the Perry deficit to 14-7 with 48 seconds left in the stanza.
Perry wasted little time in scoring again, as Weiland was stripped of the ball seconds later. Linebacker Adan Medina scooped up the ball and sprinted 37 yards to pay dirt as the score moved to 14-13. A high snap on the PAT try forced holder Rathje to scramble and try to find a receiver on the “fire” play, but Perry was unsuccessful.
“Ryan (Rathje) grew up tonight,” Olejniczak said of his senior quarterback, who was making his first varsity start. “He was under pressure quite a bit, but he stood in the pocket and made some good passes. Later in the game when they knew we had to pass and had to throw into coverage it became harder for him, but for the most part I thought we threw the ball well even though we had more drops than I want to see.”
The fourth quarter witnessed both teams turning the ball over. ADM’s David Finnegan stopped one Perry drive with an interception, with the Bluejays also fumbling the ball away.
ADM took possession with 4:40 left to play and quickly gained a pair of first downs. It appeared the Tigers could run off most of the clock, but the guests opted to continue passing and Garcia made them pay with an interception and 26-yard return to the Perry 43, with a 15-yard penalty moving the ball into Tiger territory.
Finnegan’s second interception of the game, at the 1:01 mark, ended Perry’s drive. The Jays were able to use their timeouts and force a punt, but two desperation passes from inside their own 40-yard line ended Perry’s hopes to finish off the comeback.
“I liked how we played defensively, especially against the run,” Olejniczak said. “I don’t believe in ‘good losses’ but what I think we can take from this game is that we got down two scores with just over a quarter left but we kept fighting and played hard all the way. Our conditioning looked good, too, so there are positives we can take from this — we just need to get those ‘little things’ cleaned up.”
Rathje finished 18-of-31 for 131 yards and a touchdown while being intercepted twice.
Lucas was his favorite target, catching nine passes for 70 yards while Marcus Meri pulled in four balls for 37 yards.
“What Tay (Lucas) showed tonight is what we have seen for three years in practice and have been waiting to see in a game,” Olejniczak said. “He is a strong kid and one of the toughest on the team to tackle and is very coachable, too. Tonight may have been his coming-out party.”
Saemisch led the ground attack with 32 yards on 11 carries. He and Mark Campos led the Bluejay defense with eight stops apiece.
ADM was limited to 27 yards on the ground, but Weiland had 170 yards and two TDs on 17-of-29 passing while tossing one pick.
The win allowed the Tigers — 15-9 victors last season — to maintain possession of the “Hunger Rock” trophy. The trophy contest was formed two seasons ago by the Perry and Adel Lions clubs to draw attention to the needs of the hungry in Dallas County. Both service clubs spent the past two weeks collecting food items for their respective local food pantries.
Perry will visit North Polk Friday in another non-district battle before returning home September 11 to face Gilbert.
2nd Rock Hunger Game
ADM 14, PERRY 13
at Dewey Field, Aug. 28
Team 1 2 3 4 — Final
ADM 0 6 7 0 — 14
PRY 0 0 13 0 — 13
Scoring by Quarters
ADM — McCartney 7 pass from Weiland (kick failed), 10:35.
ADM — LaFollette 6 pass from Weiland (McCartney pass from Weiland), 8:49.
PRY — Lucas 12 pass from Rathje (Garcia kick), :48.9.
PRY — Medina 37 fumble return (pass failed), :25.