MANATEE -- Coming off of a confidence-boosting 45-6 win over first year program Marco Island, coach Tod Creneti felt confident that his team would have a chance to give Naples St. John Neumann a run for its money.
The most important factor in his team's success, according to Creneti: Its ability to effectively defend a talented Neumann running attack.
On Friday night at Palma Sola Park, Neumann's multi-faceted ground game, led by Kendrick Mouton and John Augustin would prove unstoppable, but it was the Falcons' self-inflicted fumbles that would truly cost them the game in a 50-7 loss to the Celtics.
However, they came out of the gate strong as Herman Israelsson ran for gains of 8 and 12 yards on the first drive, part of a particularly solid game that netted him 78 total rush yards for an offense that struggled to find consistency all night.
He was banged up and bruised all night, as it was no secret he is the Falcons' main weapon on offense, but the senior set an admirable example for his young teammates.
"There was no reason or time to think about giving up," a winded Israelsson said after the game.
Fumbles plagued the Falcons' first eight drives however, either ending in a Neumann recovery or insurmountable losses of yardage on each possession.
When asked about the fumbles, coach Creneti was dumbfounded, "We didn't have a problem with it at all in practice this week," going on to note that he does not put the blame solely on the quarterback or center.
Neumann capitalized on these turnovers early and often, striking first in the form of a 53-yard pass from Tyler Dimond to John Augustin over the outstretched arms of corner Nick Rodhouse.
This touchdown signaled the end of an eight-minute scoreless streak to begin the game for the Falcons' defense, which showcased tireless efforts from Bradley Beazant, Jeremy Jackman and Michael Berdusco.
Neumann's depth at the running back position quickly wore down the 22-man Falcon roster, and after building a 14-0 lead following another Saint Stephen's fumble, Kendrick Mouton opened the second quarter with a 34-yard touchdown run to swing the momentum permanently toward the Celtics' side.
The Celtics would go on to score seven touchdowns (two passing, five rushing) and a safety before the Falcons reached paydirt on a 28-yard Herman Israelsson run in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons' collective gutsy performance showed potential for not only the season but the future of the program.Naples St. John Neumann 50, Saint Stephen's 7INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
SS - no completions
SJN- Dimond- 154, 2 TDRushingSS --Israelsson- 78, TD; Dages- 13; Goeders- 22
SJN--Mouton- 71, 2 TD; Augustin- 46, TD; Perry- 31, TD; Riddle- 17, TD; Jean Marie- 18; O'Rourke- 6ReceivingSS-no completions
SJN-O'Rourke- 101, TD; Augustin- 53, TD
TFL- SS-Beazant 2; Jackman 1
Pass Breakup- Rodhouse