Penalties and missed opportunities hurt the St. Paul football team.
The Wildcats were penalized 11 times for 99 yards, most of which ruined scoring drives against O’Neill. The Eagles took advantage with their running game, rushing for 257 yards to come away with a 34-13 victory over St. Paul Friday.
The Wildcats also turned the ball over three times. The big turnover came right before the half when St. Paul ran a trick play with a halfback pass that was intercepted one play after O’Neill mishandled a punt.
St. Paul coach Travis Brouillette said those were some big things that went against the Wildcats.
"We knew our passing game was going to be limited because we were working so hard to get our running game going," Brouillette said. "We knew that would struggle a little bit. We had a lot of penalties with some young kids in there. We can live with that as long as they are trying."
The Wildcats got off to the kind of start they needed. They scored on their opening drive that took 13 plays, 12 of which came on the ground. Ryley Schulte, who led St. Paul with 15 carries for 86 yards, scored on a 3-yard run.
O’Neill appeared to get something going near the end of the first quarter, but a Charley Burtwistle pass was tipped and fell into the hands of St. Paul’s Austin Helzer, who returned the interception 70 yards for the score to make it 13-0.
However, the Eagles put that aside and scored on the ensuing possession, using a eight-play drive that ended on a Burtwistle quarterback keep on an 8-yard run.
O’Neill coach Brock Eichelberger said he was glad to see the Eagles respond after the interception return.
"The kids responded well after being down 13-0 and after the score," he said. "That’s always encouraging, especially in the first game. We had some jitters early on but we played very well in the last three quarters."
O’Neill continued to power the ball, especially to running back David Fox. The junior running back had 17 carries for 98 yards and scored three touchdowns, including one that put O’Neill ahead 14-13 in the second quarter. Jose Lopez also carried the load with 18 carries for 79 yards and a score.
"David and Jose really did a good job and I thought our line did a great job in opening the holes for them," Eichelberger said. "They are kind of hard to see when they are running the ball back there. They did a good job running the ball for us, really giving us a lot of solid, positive yards for us."
The Wildcats found some success early on in the game, rushing for 99 yards in the first half.
St. Paul did suffer a blow after O’Neill’s first score. During the play, Quinn Brouillette, Travis’ son, was ejected after a 15-yard penalty. That means he can’t play against Kearney Catholic Sept. 13.
Despite the loss and the mistakes, coach Brouillette said he thought the Wildcats played hard in the first game of the season after going 0-8 last season.
"If we could have kept our heads about us, it’s probably a different game," he said. "It is what it is, but I thought our kids played their tails off. We went through an 0-8 season last year. This group has a lot of fire and they believe in what we are doing. When they do that, they play that much harder."
O’Neill ...................... 0 14 7 13—34
St. Paul ................... 13 0 0 0—13
SP — Schulte 3-yard run (Brouillette kick), 6:35.
SP—Helzer 70-yard interception return (kick failed), 0:06.
ON — Burtwistle 8-yard run (Jensen kick), 9:29.
ON — Fox 3-yard run (Jensen kick), 4:37.
ON — Fox 1-yard run (Jensen kick), 1:21.
ON — Lopez 8-yard run (Jensen kick), 10:10
ON — Fox 17-yard run (kick failed), 5:37.
Rushing—ON: Fox 17-98, Lopez 18-78, Burtwistle 4-39, Young 1-16, Emme 1-14, Rowse 1-3, Drueke 2-7, Koehler 1-2. SP: Schulte 15-86, Costello 10-31, Q. Brouillette 2-7, Paczosa 5-12, Griffith 4-15, Rother 1-4, Helzer 6-minus 8, Team 2-minus 13
Passing—ON: Burtwistle 9-17-1 103. SP: Helzer 2-5-1 43, T. Brouillette 0-1-1.
Receiving—ON: McNicholas 3-23, Cunningham 3-29, Hostert 1-25, Emme 1-13, Medina 1-3. SP: Q. Brouillette 2-43.