Southview and St. Francis de Sales sparred back and forth on Friday night in a season-opening tilt at the Glass Bowl in which momentum easily switched sides.
However, St. Francis quarterback David Nees hooked up with wideout Andrew Bonfiglio for a game-deciding 33-yard touchdown completion late in the game to give the Knights a 30-27 win over the Cougars before a crowd of approximately 2,000.
“Nobody gave us a chance to win this game, but we believed and that’s all that mattered at the end of the day,” said St. Francis’ first-year coach Chris Hedden.
Photo gallery: Southview vs. St. Francis
The Knights (1-0) showed plenty of resiliency. They fell behind 12-0 early before going on a 23-0 spurt to take a 23-12 lead into halftime.
However, St. Francis needed to rally late after Southview opened the second half with a 15-0 run to take a 27-23 lead into the fourth.
Ahmad Parker scored on a 12-yard carry for Southview’s first TD in the second half. Quarterback Austin Valdez added a 13-yard TD run late in the fourth to give the Cougars a 27-23 advantage.
“I told them at halftime they [the Cougars] were going to come out in the second half and that’s what they did,” Hedden said. “But I credit our kids because when they needed to make the plays in the fourth quarter, they stepped up and did it.”
Southview (0-1) suffered through several errors. The Cougars’ final possession ended with a receiver fumbling with less than a minute to play.
“This one really hurt them, to get ahead and have the wheels fall off,” Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “I think our biggest problem tonight was cramps. We had about five or seven guys out with cramps. We were lucky at times to get a team on the field at times.
“But I was proud of the way they battled and came back.”
Mayzes also credited the Knights for showing plenty of fight.
“They didn’t give up either,” Mayzes said. “They got behind and showed a lot of character on their part to be able to come back and mount a drive and get into the end zone.”
Valdez guided Southview’s offense on a five-play, 57-yard scoring drive that concluded with Keith Gilmore scampering on a 9-yard touchdown 10:37 left in the first quarter.
Two minutes barely elapsed before Southview increased its lead to 12-0. Valdez scored on a 1-yard sneak to finish off a 5-play, 23-yard scoring possession set up by Gilmore recovering a free football on a kickoff that St. Francis failed to retrieve.
The Cougars cruising before St. Francis’ defense responded.
The Knights scored their first points of the season when Pat Wentz tackled Valdez in the end zone for a safety to make it 12-2 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.
Wentz’s defensive stop commenced a 23-0 scoring spurt for the Knights to close out the first half.
Nees finished off St. Francis’ next two scoring drives with QB keepers.
The Knights’ QB made it a 12-9 contest when he capped off an 8-play, 45-yard drive with his first rushing TD of the season coming with 2:29 left in the opening quarter.
A Southview fumble on fourth down in Cougars territory put the Knights in good field position.
The Knights marched 48 yards on 11 plays to take a 16-12 lead when Nees scored from 2-yards out with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half.
St. Francis increased its lead to 23-12 by taking its next possession with fullback Michael Wagner scoring on a 1-yard TD plunge with 1:36 remaining before halftime.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302, or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.