SPRINGFIELD, MO--The Irish have had this date on the calendar for the entire summer and knew the first game of the season would be a formidable challenge. This muggy August night would bring the Indians from Seneca to Swisshelm Field for the team's first matchup in the newly formed Big 8 conference.
The Irish would take control of the game early, jumping out to a 7-0 lead by a Tyson Riley touchdown from the Indians 1-yard line. The score was set up by a 23-yard scamper by senior Nick Crites. The Indians would take their first possession of the game and would face a 4th and 1 from their own 29. The Indians chose to go for it but would get stopped for a 1-yard loss by Chase Weiberg, giving the Irish the ball back with a short field. The Irish would again convert quickly with a 20-yard run by senior Adrian Coulter to put the Irish up 14 with just over 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter. Seneca would come to life near the end of the first quarter by driving 59-yards on three plays to bring the game within 6 (14-8).
The Irish would again answer by adding three more behind the leg of Logan Brock. The Irish drive took them from the Irish 44 to the Indians 29 before Brock punched it through the uprights from 45 yards. The Indians then converted another two-point play to trim the Irish advantage to a point, 17-16, with 7:04 remaining in the first half.
Nick Crites finished a six-play drive on the ensuing possession with an 11-yard touchdown run that gave Catholic an 8-point cushion.
Then two of the Ozarks' best rushing quarterbacks went to work.
Clouse hugged the sideline on an 80-yard dash to bring Seneca within two, 24-22. Two plays later, Riley countered with a dazzling 78-yard run of his own that extended the Irish lead. Clouse and Riley dueled yard for yard, both collecting 153 first-half rushing yards.
On the next Irish possession, Riley connected on his only pass attempt of the half when he found Charlie O'Reilly for a 44-yard reception. Coulter scored his second touchdown of the game on the next play, and the Irish took a 38-22 lead to the locker room.
The visitors regrouped and tested Catholic in the second half.
Alex Cook plowed his way to the endzone with 5:11 remaining and a successful two-point play cut the Irish lead in half. Catholic briefly lost Riley to cramps, and Crites was hobbled on the ensuing drive as well.
Minutes later, Riley was intercepted by Parker Wolfinbarger and the Indians turned the mistake into six more points. But Catholic denied Clouse on the two-point attempt and clung to a 38-36 lead after three quarters.
Seneca seemed to gain momentum early in the 4th, capitalizing on an Irish procedure penalty and forcing Logan Brock to punt. The Indians took over on their own 13 yard line and chipped away at the Irish defense. The Indians moved the ball 87 yards on 11 plays to take their first lead of the night (42-38). This was the 3rd straight unanswered drive from the Indians.
The Irish would get the ball back on another short field with 6:38 remaining in the game and the fans were anxious to see if the Irish could stop the Seneca momentum. Tyson Riley ran the first three plays of the series to take the ball past midfield to the Indians 29-yard line. Adrian Coulter would follow with another nice run that took the ball inside the Indians 10-yard line and Nick Crites would punch it in from the one for his second rushing touchdown of the night.
Seneca would take possesion with 4:07 remaining after returning the kickoff to their own 25. The Indians would take a time-out to set up another drive but this time the Irish defense would dig in with big stops from Irish seniors, Riley, Crites, and Brown. The Indians would opt to punt and the Irish would take possesion with 2:48 remaining.
On the first play of the series Tyson Riley took the ball 70-yards to extend the lead but the team could not convert on the PAT, keeping the game within 8. Logan Brock would boot his amazing 7th touchback of the night, leaving the Indians 80 yards to cover in 2:35. The Indians would not give up, completing a pass that covered 47-yards on 4th and 3. The Indians would creep inside the red zone after a pass interference call. The Indians got 4 chances from the Irish 13 but could not convert as the Irish defense shored up for the remaining plays.
The fans were treated to an amazing opening game where the players left everything on the field. The game had over 1,000 yards of total offense.
The Irish will travel to Cassville on Friday 8/31 for a tough week two matchup agains the 1-0 Wildcats.