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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, October 12, 2019 10:50 pm

Saint Francis 34, Concordia 27

Cougars prevail on late blocked-kick TD

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Jack Givens had tears in his eyes, a football cradled in his arms and one happy coach embracing him.

The Saint Francis senior cornerback scooped up the football that Matt Swartz blocked on a Concordia field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining and returned it 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with seven seconds left as Saint Francis stunned Concordia (Mich.) 34-27 at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium on Saturday night.

“It took just a perfect hop to me, and oh my gosh it was crazy,” Givens said.

The Cougars once held a 27-6 lead in the game before losing their starting quarterback Matt Crable to injury and giving up 21 unanswered points. Concordia quarterback and Concordia Lutheran graduate Peter Morrison executed what would have been a game-winning drive, resulting in a 30-yard Wyatt Mast field goal with 17 seconds left.

Swartz, Givens and Saint Francis had other plans.

“When it’s that close of a game you just gotta come up and make a play, and that’s what did,” Swartz, a Snider graduate said. “I’m very grateful we did.”

Givens’ touchdown return wasn’t even the first of its kind in the game. Freshman River Walsh sprawled out to block a Cardinals punt and linebacker Nick Lucas scooped it up and took it 29 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to make it 13-0 Saint Francis. Crable added a rushing touchdown and passing touchdowns to Dylan Hunley and Zenden Dellinger in the first half.

Then the tables turned when Crable went down with a leg injury early in the second half. He later returned to the sidelines on crutches.

“Crable goes out, we shoot ourselves in the foot with some stupid penalties and we allowed them to get back in the game,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. "But when it came right down to it, we made the block, the scoop and score and we found a way to find a way to beat a good football team today."

The Cougars (4-1, 1-1 Mid-States Football Association) were trying to avoid a repeat of last year when they suffered back-to-back losses to Marian and Concordia.

“We kinda talked about it on Sunday when we met as a team and we said we can’t let the same thing happen like it did last year, so we just tried our best to fight for it," Givens said.

Morrison went 21 of 31 for 213 yards and two touchdowns for Concordia (5-1, 1-1 MSFA). Heath Simmons, a redshirt freshman, who replaced the injured Crable, threw for 62 yards and had one interception.

Donley, who's in his 41st year of coaching, said this win ranks up there as one of his favorites.

“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in my time and that was definitely one of them," Donley said. "I’m so happy for Jack Givens to make that play, but that’s Cougar grit."

Givens, a Carroll graduate, was overcome with emotion when talking about what the win meant to him.

"I don’t get the ball that often, so it was pretty fun to run. Just being able to do that for my grandparents, who both passed away the past few years,” Givens said while tearing up. “They lived far away and never got to see me play, but I know they saw that one. Getting to do that for my team in a game like this, it means the world.”

ewyman@jg.net