The Van Horn coaching staff preached it all game – finish. Finish the run. Finish the play. Finish the tackle.
With a 12-10 lead 10 minutes into the third quarter, the Falcons (5-2, 1-1 Crossroads Conference), couldn’t finish the game strong Friday night as Summit Christian Academy (6-1, 3-0) ran away from the Falcons in the fourth quarter for a 38-12 win at Frontier Justice Field in a battle for the Crossroads Conference title.
“It’s a symptom of what we have here right now,” Van Horn head coach William Harris said. “We have some young kids who are still learning how to prepare. Right now we’re not preparing to finish games.
“It’s good enough in the first half. It’s good enough against teams who are not as good as us, or who don’t play as hard, but when we play a team like them, that’s going to fight you on every single play. At some point it wears down if we’re not completely focused.”
With about three minutes left in the third quarter, Drevion Downton blocked an SCA punt from Josh McConnell to give the Falcons the ball on the SCA 16. Two plays later, junior running back Davontae Telar punched the ball in from the 7 to give Van Horn a 12-10 lead with 2:38 left.
That’s when McConnell started to take over for SCA. McConnell scored four times in the final 13 minutes, including an interception returned for a 50-plus yard touchdown, and a 65-yard, untouched run.
Following a McConnell touchdown to put SCA up 17-12 before the start of the fourth quarter, Van Horn’s drive stalled inside Eagle territory. Sean Mitchell fumbled the snap to punt, and SCA took over around midfield, setting up another McConnell score.
In all, McConnell scored all 38 SCA points and racked up 221 yards rushing.
“On the field, off the field,” SCA head coach Todd Berck said, “he’s just one of those kids you just love to have coached. I’m so proud of him and all the things he’s accomplished with the rest of the team. He’s our leader. He’s our heartbeat. When he gets rolling, we get rolling.”
Van Horn struggled to get out of their own half much of the first half. Each drive started deep in its own territory. A three-and-out and poor punt gave SCA the ball on the Falcons’ 19-yard line for their first drive, but the Eagles could only muster a 44-yard field goal by McConnell.
Finally on their fifth drive, the Falcons got it moving. Back-to-back rushes up the middle by Telar resulted in nothing, like most of his attempts to that point. Senior quarterback Shaun Ross scrambled for a first down to keep the drive alive.
Then the Falcons continued what hadn’t been working. And it started working.
“We’re built that way,” Harris said. “We know a lot of teams we play go both ways, and we don’t go both ways, so we kind of preach to our kids that it might not happen on the first drive. It might not happen on the first play, but they’re going to wear down. We’re going to wear them down with our tempo and kind of the way we play on offense.”
Telar picked up 28 yards on three consecutive carries to put the Falcons at the 50. Two plays later, Ross scrambled again, except this time found a wide open Isaac Fue-King for a 30-yard touchdown pass to go up 6-3.
Telar finished the game with 131 yards on 28 carries, and Ross rushed for 112 yards on 11 carries and completed 10 of his 17 passing attempts for 89 yards.
After the SCA defense gave way, the Van Horn defense did the same in the second quarter.
The Eagles drove 81 yards on 12 plays to regain the lead, 10-6 with 2:21 left in the second quarter.
A two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter got interrupted in Eagles’ territory when Ross’ hot pass skimmed off Fue-King’s hands and ended up being an interception for Grayson Sprouse.
The Falcons missed another opportunity midway through the third quarter. After driving down to the Eagle 4, the snap to Telar went over his head on fourth-and-one for a 22-yard loss and a turnover on downs.