Trojans Miss Upset Bid at No. 13 Saint Xavier
CHICAGO – No. 13 Saint Xavier put 10 points on the board in its first two possessions and held off multiple comeback bids from Taylor over the second half to hand the Trojans a 24-20 setback in their final non-league outing of the season.
Despite the 10 early points from the offense, it was the stout SXU defense that hampered the Taylor attack throughout the contest. The Cougars (4-1) entered the game ranked among the top-20 in the NAIA in sacks, total defense and scoring defense and held TU to 228 total yards of offense, while forcing three turnovers.
Everett Pollard completed 20 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns but threw his first three interceptions of the season. Grant Hohlbein led the offense with six receptions and a touchdown, while Nicholas Lamica and Spencer Crisp were also on the receiving end of Pollard touchdown passes.
Dovi Gamble and Nate Phillips paced the Taylor defense with nine stops each, while Phillips and Alex Anderson both picked up fumble recoveries. Anderson added seven tackles and 1.5 hits for lost yardage and Jeremy Ramirez recorded TU’s lone sack of the contest.
Taylor fell into the early 10-0 deficit after allowing scores on each of SXU’s first two possessions and coming away empty handed on a first-and-goal from the one-yard line on its first possession of the contest.
The Trojans erased the early momentum from the home team with a takeaway, as Darius Stanley forced a fumble on a Cougar reception and Phillips scooped up the loose ball on the SXU 27-yard line. Pollard connected with Crisp six plays later to put the Trojans on the board with a 13-yard scoring completion to narrow the gap to 10-7 with 4:55 to play in the opening half.
After earning a defensive stop, Taylor gave the ball right back on an interception and Saint Xavier capitalized with a touchdown and a 17-7 lead with 27 seconds to go in the opening half.
The trend carried over into the third quarter, as another turnover led to a score. This time, it was another SXU fumble that was recovered by Anderson to set Taylor up and Pollard hit Lamica for a 28-yard score to make it a 17-14 contest.
The Cougars retaliated with a touchdown on their next touch and the margin remained at a 10-point spread until Pollard connected with Hohlbein on a four-yard score to cap a 14-play march and draw Taylor within a single score once again at 24-20 with 12:04 to play in the contest.
The Trojans would get no closer however, as they could not cross midfield on either of their final two possessions in the 24-20 defeat.
Taylor (2-2) will open league play in the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League on October 7 at 1:00 pm, when it welcomes Siena Heights (3-2, 1-0 MSFA) to Turner Stadium for its 2017 Homecoming and Family Weekend contest.