A week removed from a tough win on the road over Heidelberg College, the John Carroll University football team made costly mistakes that ultimately led to their loss against Ohio Athletic Conference foe Wilmington College, 24-16.
After driving 62 yards on their opening possession, JCU’s offense stalled at the 11-yard line of Wilmington.
A missed 28-yard field goal attempt would be a prelude to what was to come for the rest of the game.
Wilmington was able to intercept passes on the next two Blue Streak possessions and converted both turnovers into scores to open up a 14-0 lead, which would prove to be insurmountable.
The Blue Streaks have typically been the beneficiary of the turnover battle this season, but this time around it was JCU that proceeded to give the game away to the Quakers.
The Blue Streaks trailed 21-16 in the fourth quarter when the JCU defense came up with a huge turnover.
The JCU offense had the ball and the chance to take the lead, but on the very first play the Blue Streaks’ coughed it up and Wilmington suddenly had the ball back deep in the Blue Streak end.
The Blue Streak defense did a great job to hold the Quakers to three points and keep it at an eight point margin, thus keeping it at a one-possession game.
Even with all of the mistakes and slip-ups, John Carroll was still in a position to send the game to overtime with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Blue Streaks were able to quickly and efficiently drive the ball down the field against what had become a rather stingy Wilmington defense, after starting on their own 46-yard line.
With 35 seconds left in the game, JCU was at the Quakers’ 1-yard line facing fourth down and goal.
A costly false start penalty backed the ball up to the six-yard line. On fourth down, senior quarterback Jeff Javorek rolled to his right and his pass to the end zone was knocked to the turf, dashing all hopes the team had of starting 3-0 in conference for the first time since 2002.
“The defeat was pretty disappointing because we know we should have beaten Wilmington,” said senior defensive tackle Matt Hodges. “We had plenty of opportunities to come back and win.”
The Blue Streaks outgained the Quakers in total yards and were able to convert more first downs. Unfortunately for the Blue Streak cause, those numbers don’t matter too much.
It was, however, the turnovers that put the nail in the coffin as JCU slipped to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in OAC play.
The Blue Streaks now turn their attention to the Marietta College Pioneers who defeated Wilmington two weeks ago.
“We have to forget about the loss and move on. Every team in the OAC is extremely talented so we have to take everything one week at a time,” senior wide receiver Chris Esparza said. “This allows us to focus 100% of our attention on who we are playing Saturday as though nothing else matters.”
With the loss, JCU slips into sole possession of fourth place in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
It will be a tough climb to the top of the conference standings with three OAC teams rated in top-25 of the d3football.com poll: No. 21 Capital University, No. 13 Otterbein College and the top-ranked team in the country, Mount Union College.
The Blue Streaks will battle all three of those teams in next five weeks.