College football: ‘Sloppy’ St. Francis falls to Ferris State
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org August 30, 2012 11:08PM
St. Francis' Willie McCalebb looks for some running room vs Ferris State. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:38PM
University of St. Francis did things Thursday night that will win most football games.
Sloppiness, though, can negate much of the good.
“We are a sloppy team right now,” Saints coach Joe Curry said after his team fell to Ferris State 35-24 at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
“We had too many penalties (12, for 106 yards), and dumb penalties, the type of things we’ve told the guys they can’t do any more. Those were big plays. But that’s my fault as the head coach.”
The good news is the Saints (1-1), ranked No. 7 in the NAIA preseason poll, have nine days to prepare for their visit to defending NAIA national champion St. Xavier on Sept. 8.
The yellow flags stole the thunder from a potent USF attack, whose only shortcoming was failing to get the ball in the end zone while the game slipped away in the second half.
Despite losing two of his many targets, Luke Gundersen (Plainfield South) and Elliot Allen (Minooka), to injury in the first half, junior quarterback E.J. White completed 28-of-51 passes for 373 yards, a personal high and two yards shy of John Goolsby’s school record. Tight end Dustin Greenwell caught nine for 135 yards and a touchdown, and John Magee (Plainfield Central) grabbed seven for 78 yards while absorbing several jarring hits on throws over the middle.
“We had the two people get knocked out, and that hurt us, but we do have a good receiving corps,” Greenwell said. “We drove the ball all game, we just didn’t score enough. That happens sometime.”
St. Francis, which should have Gundersen and Allen back for St. Xavier, finished with 473 total yards to 466 for Ferris State (1-0), an NCAA Division II program that went 6-5 last season. Both sides totaled 30 first downs.
After scoring on a 73-yard pass off a flanker reverse on their first play from scrimmage, the Bulldogs turned to a relentless ground attack that netted 364 yards.
“They run a unique type of deal,” Curry said. “Maybe William Penn that we’ll see later is something like it. But next week at St. Xavier we will see the polar opposite.”
Linebackers Drew and Adam Tondini (Morris), the Saints’ top two tacklers from 2011, were serving one-game suspensions for violation of team rules, and their absence was felt.
“You don’t replace the Tondinis, but the guys who filled in were more than adequate,” Curry said.
That included Josh Mander (Joliet Catholic), who was credited with 41/2 tackles. Linebacker Pete Damiani (Lincoln-Way Central) was the leading tackler with seven solo and 101/2 total.
“Our guys played hard every snap,” Curry said. “I give them that. I think we got tired toward the end. We’re not overly big up front.”
The game was tied at 14 at halftime and the Saints attempted on onside kick that failed to open the second half. Ferris State drove down and scored on that possession and the subsequent possession to lead 28-14.
“We thought we had to steal possessions,” Curry said. “The onside kick was in the game plan. We made one work in the first half.”
St. Francis penetrated Bulldogs’ territory three straight possessions after that, the drives ending in Sean Murray’s 43-yard field, failure to pick up the first down on fourth-and-1 from the 15 and an interception.
Time to prepare for St. Xavier.