By Dan McGrath
A team has to learn how to win before it can win, and the inability to grasp that lesson helps explain why an usual spring football season ended with the Leo Lions saddled with an unsightly 0-6 record.
The ‘W’ column came up empty for Leo when Marian Catholic used three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull out a 20-12 victory over the Lions in a Senior Night season finale at St. Rita’s Cronin Field on Friday, April 23.
Linebacker Perdure Carter, running back Jalen Johnson and the other six seniors in uniform did all they could to avert the hurt of a winless season. But the Lions’ inability to muster anything of consequence on offense put too much pressure on a defense that finally caved, abetted by an interception and an errant snap on a punt.
“This was more like a training camp than a season, but we’ll learn from it, build off it and grow,” Coach Mike Holmes said. “I want to thank the seniors, and the younger guys … I hope they don’t ever experience this level of disappointment again.”
Tajheem Lawson scored on four- and two-yard runs and Randall Nauden went in from seven yards out in the final 5 1/2 minutes as Marian transformed a 12-0 deficit into the 20-12 final.
Leo’s most productive drive of the season—46 yards in seven plays—ended with Johnson’s 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Moments later, Marian quarterback Ronald Thomas III lost the ball while fleeing the Leo pass rush. Marcus Ray returned his fumble 64 yards for the score that gave the Lions a 12-0 lead at halftime.
But Leo’s offense called it a night at that point and left its defense marooned on the field. James E’Akels completed just four of 18 passes for 40 yards, and Johnson needed 21 carries to grind out 73 yards.
A first down or two would have enabled the Lions to run out the clock after the first of Lawson’s two touchdowns, but a holding penalty negated E’Akels’ seven-yard scramble on third-and-five, forcing a punt.
After the snap sailed over kicker Bill Anderson’s head, Marian needed to travel only 20 yards for the tying touchdown, nudging ahead on sophomore Eric Sebastian’s PAT kick.
A sack and three incompletions got Marian the ball back with another short field, and Nauden scored the clincher.
Game, set, season.