It was advertised as a thriller as the St. James Area Saints took on the Windom Eagles, each team suffering from a winless streak that extends into the last two seasons.
The game didn't disappoint. With the Saints marching the ball down field during the final minute of the game looking to even the score at 22 a costly turnover would be the difference in the game.
The Saints lost to Windom by a final score of 22-14 marking the second defeat in the first two weeks of the season. The big difference between the two teams last Friday came in the form of turnovers, as the Saints recorded six turnovers, including four interceptions and two fumbles.
The Saints started the game hot, ending their first possession with a touchdown. Logan Sykes helped the Saints move the ball down field with a long run to start the drive. A few plays later the drive ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Senior quarterback Walker Froehling to a wide open Ryan Menssen in the end zone. The Saints failed to convert a two-point extra point following the touchdown.
The Saints took the 6-0 lead into the second quarter, but that lead wouldn't last long. In the first play of the second quarter, Eagles quarterback Zach Bartosh scrambled right and heaved a long bomb to Jacob Gotto who had snuck behind the Saints defense. The result of the pass was a 79-yard touchdown for the Eagles. The Saints were able to block the extra point attempt, limiting the Eagles to a 6-6 draw.
The Saints had trouble moving the ball in the second, leaving the Eagles with good field position for much of the quarter. Both teams struggled with turnovers during first-half of the second quarter. After a fumble by Menssen early in the second gave the ball to the Eagles, the Saints took the ball back through an interception from Kody Curry the very next play.
In the following possession in an attempt to run the ball on third-and-one the Saints fumbled a hand off which resulted in the Eagles retaining their good field position.
With about three minutes left in the second quarter, the Eagles had marched the ball to the three-yard line, but were stopped by bulldog-like defense of the Saints. Senior Ryan Menssen had a touchdown saving tackle during the goal-line stand and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
If there was any celebration it was short-lived. Two plays later Saints Junior David Bradley was tackled in the end zone for a safety while attempting a sweep play to the left.
The Saints went into half with a deficit of just two points. Neither team was able to produce much coming out of half time, as both teams moved the ball well, but were unable to finish a drive in the end zone.
Page 2 of 2 - With 12 seconds to go in the third quarter the Eagles were finally able to break through the hard-nosed defense of the Saints with a 15 yard pass from Bartosh to Gotto into the end zone, helping them take a 14-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Saints defense was able to grind out most of the fourth quarter, but two costly interceptions in the fourth gave Windom good field position, starting their drive on the Saints 46. With about three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were able to convert their chances into a touchdown as Bartosh hooked up with Pfeffer on fourth down for a 23-yard score. The Saints would get beat by a slant route for an Eagles two point conversion to take a 22-6 lead.
With their backs against the wall, the Saints showed some character marching 80 yards in one minute for a Froehling-Stevens connection in the end zone. The Saints then converted a two-point conversion, cutting the lead to eight and making the game a one possession match with just more than a minute to play.
After a failed onside kick the Eagles were stopped by a solid Saints defense, who gave their offense a chance to tie the game with one final drive. However, in a third down pass attempt, Froehling was picked-off, which allowed the Eagles to run down the clock with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.
The Saints will feel they should have come away from the Windom game with a victory, but will look forward in the schedule toward their first win of the year. The Saints take on Spectrum away, Friday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m.