Falcons put an end to Knights' bragging rights
Football: Foothills wins a 36-27 thriller at Holy Trinity Academy
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 11:28 am
The Falcons hung on to beat the Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights 36-27 on Sept. 28 in front of more than 900 fans at Knights Field in Okotoks despite HTA running back Ryder Stone running for more than 220 yards.
The Knights won the three previous meetings between the two highly-ranked Tier 2 schools, and Falcons senior quarterback Taylor Armsworthy admitted he was glad to finally beat the school from the north.
“Yeah, it is a monkey off our back,” Armsworthy said. “But I was confident the whole time. I felt we were well prepared for them. We just had to play our game.”
HTA head coach Matthew Hassett said his team made too many mistakes to beat a top-ranked team like Foothills.
“It was a good game, and we showed more life on offence than we have in the past few weeks,” Hassett said.
“We made a lot of young mistakes that beat us.”
Armsworthy not only hurt the Knights with his strong right arm, but also with his legs.
He chewed up yardage on the opening drive, which included a 20-yard TD scamper in which he faked a handoff to Josh Koshman and took off to the outside for a 7-0 Foothills’ lead.
Foothills threatened to take a 14-0 lead when they were able to move the ball down to the Knights’ five-yard line and chose to go for the touchdown on third-and-goal. However, Armsworthy’s pass to Koshman was broken up by Knights linebacker Sam Stange.
The Knights, who are always in scoring position with a strong-as-an-ox speedster, responded quickly.
Knights running back Ryder Stone appeared to be stopped for a short gain but kept his legs pumping like a tractor’s pistons at harvest time. He broke through and didn’t stop until he ran 105 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:30 left in the first half.
“I came around the corner and I slipped and almost went down,” Stone said. “The hole was pretty big and I was able to break through.”
The Falcons regained the lead when Armsworthy kicked a 55-yard punt into the end zone to put Foothills ahead 8-7.
Armsworthy would score his second touchdown of the game with a 17-yard run on a third-and-five gamble with 1:15 remaining in the second quarter to give the Falcons what appeared to be a 15-7 lead going into the half.
However, appearances can be deceiving. The Knights closed the gap to 15-13 on the next drive when Stone exploded for a 78-yard TD romp with approximately a minute left in the half (HTA missed the two-point conversion).
The Knights had a chance to take the lead before the half when HTA defensive back Jordan Rae went up and made a spectacular interception in front of Falcon receiver Rory Forrester to give HTA a first down on their 50 with about 45 seconds left. However, they were unable to move the ball before the break.
The Falcons didn’t let the fact they dominated the first half and came away with only a two-point lead bother them.
“We focused at halftime and how we needed to finish and do the small things,” Armsworthy said.
They also had to find a way to stop Stone, said Falcons outside linebacker Cody Thompson, which meant making sure Stone was greeted with some hard-hitting Falcons when he got the ball.
“I think we were able to wear him down in the second half,” Thompson said. “He seemed to be slower and slower getting up in the second half.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons capitalized when Hassett rolled the dice.
The Knights gambled on third and nine from their own 21-yard line on the final play of the third quarter. The Falcons took over on downs when Foothills lineman Ryan Cole knocked down Knights quarterback Hayden Oberg’s pass.
Two players later, Forrester went up and made a nice catch for a 17-yard touchdown to put Foothills up 22-13.
HTA Knights coach Matt Hassett defended his decision to gamble.
“Our punting protection had been so bad that I thought we might as well go for it,” Hassett said.
The Falcons appeared to put the game away when Armsworthy threw a bullet to a streaking Brenden Hansen who found a seam for a 65-yard touchdown with 10 minutes remaining to up their lead to 29-13.
The Knights’ Caleb Selders took the ensuing kick-off to the house for an apparent TD, but it was called back to the Falcons’ 35-yard-line due to an illegal block.
However, the Knights regrouped moving the ball down the field, capped off with a six-yard-TD run by Nick Villareal to close the gap to 28-20.
The Knights’ goose seemed to be cooked when Armsworthy punted the ball into the end zone to give Foothills a nine-point lead with 4:20 remaining.
However, they got new life from a wounded duck.
Stone took a pitch from quarterback Spencer Kiranas and threw a wounded duck to running back Donovan Curtis for 60-yard catch-and-run TD to put the Knights within two at 29-27 with 2:37 left. It came as a complete surprise to Stone.
“He wasn’t the intended receiver, I was throwing to Nick (Villareal) and it slipped off my hand,” Stone said. “It worked out for the best because Donovan made a very athletic play.”
The Falcons were finally able to salt the game away when Koshman ran it in from one-yard out to give Foothills the 36-27 lead.
The clinching drive was kept alive by a 42-yard pass from Armsworthy to T.J. Tighe on a second-and-20 from the HTA 47-yard line.
The Falcons’ victory improved their record to 4-1 on the season. They are currently the third-ranked Tier 2 school (750-1,249 students) in the province. They are 2-0 in the Big Rock Conference and play the Rundle Cobras for the regular season title Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Falcon Field.
Rundle College is 2-0 in the conference after previously beating the Knights. Rundle beat the Highwood Mustangs 46-7 Friday.
The loss dropped the Knights’ record to 2-3 on the season. More importantly they are 0-2 in the Big Rock Conference. They will have to open the Big Rock playoffs on the road as a result of the loss. The Knights can clinch third place with a victory over the winless Highwood Mustangs Oct. 4 at Knights Field in Okotoks at 5 p.m.