Van Horn junior linebacker and wide receiver Nathan Ingold noticed the Falcons were missing something during the second half of Saturday afternoon’s football game at Hogan Prep Academy.
“The team lost heart,” Ingold said.
That loss of heart, combined with Hogan Prep’s second-half running game, resulted in a 28-0 non-conference loss for the previously undefeated Falcons.
Defensively, the Falcons (6-1) had enough heart – or at least made enough plays – to keep it a 6-0 ballgame at halftime, producing three interceptions and a fumble recovery during the first half. In addition, the special teams unit recovered a muffed punt return.
“We worked as a team,” said Ingold, who had two interceptions. “Everybody did ... what they were supposed to do.”
However, the Falcons couldn’t get anything going on offense because of their own miscues, coach Jeff Tolbert said. Van Horn lost three first-half fumbles. The first one, which happened during their opening possession, set up Hogan Prep’s five-play, 35-yard scoring drive, capped by Isiah Baylis’ 15-yard TD pass to Edward Collins with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
“I felt like they were able to make some things happen offensively, despite their turnovers,” Tolbert said. “I think that was the difference. They turned the ball over some, but they also were in a bit of a flow offensively and scored early and were in control of the game.”
The Rams (7-0), ranked eighth in the state in Class 3, strengthened that sense of command during the second half by rushing for 278 yards on 36 carries to finish with 328 yards on 51 carries. Rams coach Phil Lascuola attributed Hogan Prep’s rushing success to some blocking changes made during halftime that were dictated by the team’s inability to run outside the first half.
“We started going inside and we broke some good runs and kind of got them on their heels a little bit,” Lascuola said.
Hogan Prep also took control by controlling the clock. Of Hogan Prep’s three second-half scoring drives, two were more than six minutes long. The first drive, capped by Ke’Waun Riley’s 21-yard TD run and Baylis’ two-point conversion run with 1:43 left in the third quarter, lasted 6:46 and covered 87 yards in 13 plays.
The second one, capped by Horace McCallester’s 9-yard TD run and two-point conversion run with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, lasted 6:19 and covered 88 yards in 12 plays. The last scoring possession was a one-play drive, capped by Chriselle Lang’s 58-yard TD run.
Tolbert said that injuries to wide receiver/defensive back Marquis Bever and offensive lineman/linebacker Levi Kelsey, coupled with the Rams controlling the line of scrimmage, hurt Van Horn’s second-half momentum.
“At the end of the first half, I thought we were doing a good job of wearing them down,” Tolbert said. “I felt like they were tired, we were tired – and so, let’s see what happens. But I think losing those kids at the end of the first half affected our confidence a little bit.”
Confidence is the key for Van Horn to move on after Saturday’s defeat, Ingold said.
“(We’ve got to) forget it , come back, work harder next week (against Kansas City Central),” he said.