All seemed well early on for Bishop Ford, up by two scores in as many possessions, but the Falcons never found the end zone again against Mount St. Michael on Sunday.
Ford watched the Mountaineers rally for a 22–12 Catholic High School Football League victory at Aviator Sports Complex. The defeat ends a five-game winning streak for the Falcons, who are eying a high Class AA playoff seed after winning the ‘A’ title the last two seasons.
“That’s been our goal,” Ford coach Jim Esposito said. “We won the A championship, but we wanted to move up and to play a AAA team like this down-to-the-wire tough, and we’re proud of it.”
Something more than a moral victory looked possible for the Falcons (6–2, 5–2) early in the game. On Ford’s first possession, quarterback James Esposito, the coach’s son, dropped in a perfect pass to Malik Warner from 32-yards out for the first score of the game. On the next possession, Jevon Smith burst up the middle and sprinted 89 yards for another score to give Ford a 12–0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, that would be the last time Ford found the end zone as Mount St. Michael’s defense was impenetrable for the remainder of the contest. Mount (4–4, 4–3) recovered its own fumble in the end zone for its first score, and got a touchdown pass from Kasim Thomas to Tyrell Halliman to grab a 14–12 lead at the half. Pressure from the Mount defensive line, which tipped numerous passes, hindered Ford’s ability to attack through the air.
The younger Esposito took responsibility for the offense slowing down and knows he must get better to make a playoff run.
“You can put the blame on my shoulders because we had to execute better and we didn’t,” he said. “I was over-thinking at the line of scrimmage. I was trying to be perfect and I couldn’t.”
Offense wasn’t the only problem for Ford as its defense was worn down by Mount’s relentless triple-option attack. It was Ford’s first time this season defending such a unique attack, and the coach was happy with how his team rose to the challenge.
“I thought we got a little tired as the game wore on, and we started missing tackles, but we were in the right position. And against a team that runs it so well, and has all that experience, we did a good job defensively,” Esposito said.
The loss to a team ahead of them in the standings hurts, but Ford will look to improve on its mistakes headed into a game against unbeaten St. Francis Prep, and the playoffs after that.
“It gives us something to go to practice and work on,” James Esposito said. “We’ll work our butts off out there and go out and try to win next week.”