North Catholic puts down challenge from Mt. Pleasant

Friday, September 27, 2019 | 11:50 PM

Mt. Pleasant’s football team is close – oh so close – to playing winning football.

But coach Jason Fazekas believes that close isn’t good enough.

Friday night’s 42-28 home loss to North Catholic reinforced his belief.

“We’ve been saying all year that the effort is there and it is,” Fazekas said. “The kids are playing hard, but we’ve got to figure out a way to win a football game. We are close, very close, but we are not coming up with the plays when we need them to win games, especially against good teams like North Catholic.”

The Vikings fell to 1-3 in the Big East Conference and 2-4 overall, while North Catholic took over sole possession of first place in the conference with a 4-0 league mark and a 4-1 overall record.

Mt. Pleasant played from behind all night, as North Catholic scored on its first three possessions to take a 20-0 lead. The Vikings battled back with a 97-yard kickoff return from Brady Johnson followed by an 11-run-play touchdown drive that covered 58 yards. Pete Billey scored the first of his two 4-yard TDs and it was a 20-14 game with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first half.

“They are a good football team,” Fazekas said of the Trojans. “To beat them, we can’t have mistakes. We can’t play behind the sticks. We have to play great against good teams like that.”

Self-inflicted poor field position forced the Vikings to play from behind and the Vikings couldn’t muster much offense in the early going. Once they got back into the game, the Trojans had enough offense left to score twice to counter a 71-yard Asher O’Conner-to-Jake Johnson touchdown pass to take a 34-21 lead into halftime.

An interception by Zac Sellinger seemed to turn the tide back the Vikings’ way and Billey’s second TD made it a one-score game at 34-28 with 10:19 left in the third quarter. The defenses dug in and produced what North Catholic coach Pat O’Shea called “a very good high school football game.”

North Catholic limited Mt. Pleasant to six plays in the fourth quarter and came up with two interceptions to seal the win. The Trojans also got a huge lift from a 91-yard, 17-play drive and iced the game on Anthony Serventi’s third touchdown run of the game.

“That drive was a tough one,” Fazekas said. “That killed us. They are a tough football team and they played hard.”

O’Shea heaped plenty of praise of the Vikings for sticking with his Trojans.

“We got up 20-0, then all of a sudden, we bottomed out,” O’Shea said. “But give them a lot of credit for how they battled back into the game. From that point on, it was one heck of a good high school football game.”

Fazekas wants more for his team, but for now, he’ll have to hang his hat on that.

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