College Football: St. Xavier falls Grand View (Iowa)
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media October 5, 2013 11:08PM
Updated: November 7, 2013 6:49AM
On the first play from scrimmage Saturday, St. Xavier quarterback John Rhode had his pass intercepted. On his last pass of the first half, the redshirt freshman was picked off again and this one was returned for a back breaking touchdown that gave Grand View (Iowa) a 21-point halftime lead.
In between, the Cougars lost running back Nick Pesek to an ankle injury, had safety Jacob Ghinazzi ejected for targeting and saw their depleted defense torched for 404 first-half yards.
Murphy’s law was in effect for No. 3 St. Xavier, and it all added up to a homecoming-spoiling 48-21 defeat at the hands of the No. 4 Vikings in a Mid-States Football Association Midwest League opener in Mount Greenwood.
“Playing a spread team, this was not a good week to have a depleted secondary,” St. Xavier coach Mike Feminis said. “We had two of our top three corners out, then the situation with Jake. That took a bite out of us defensively. (Grand View) is a very good football team. They’re going to do a lot of damage.”
Rhode (22-of-37, 258 yards, 2 TDs) was intercepted five times by Grand View (5-0, 1-0). The biggest came at the end of the first half.
Having been badly outplayed but still in the game down 28-14, St. Xavier (3-2, 0-1) took over at their own 6-yard line with 38 seconds left and came out throwing.
Dudley Bickham picked off Rhode and returned it 11 yards for the score.
“That felt like I got punched in the gut,” St. Xavier receiver Nick DeBenedetti said.
Feminis took the blame.
“Horrible,” he said. “That’s on the coach. I shouldn’t have put our redshirt freshman quarterback in that situation. That was a dagger.”
St. Xavier trailed 14-0 before a 3-yard touchdown run from Rhode, who led the team in rushing with 30 yards on eight carries.
A 3-yard scoring strike from Rhode to Joshua Hunter (Thornridge) got the Cougars within 28-14 with 4:20 left in the half, but that was as close as they would get as turnovers – seven in all – piled up.
“Just bad decisions,” DeBenedetti said. “It’s the risk you take when you play a redshirt freshman quarterback and three freshmen offensive linemen. We just have to stay together and get better.”
DeBenedetti (Andrew) caught four passes for 99 yards and a 35-yard touchdown.
Dave Marciano (St. Rita) led the Cougars’ defense with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Grand View finished with a 581-354 edge in total yards. Derek Fulton passed for 298 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 57 yards and a score.
Feminis said he was unsure how serious the injury was to Pesek, who went out in the first quarter.