One last stand

Laura Eagle/Special to PrepsKC

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 18, 2013 - 11:43 PM

Through the mud and the muck, it took overtime for St. Pius X to outlast rival O'Hara 21-20 in a hotly contested battled on a very cool and damp Friday night. The field itself was like a mixture of wet grass and gooey clay.
And it was Warriors quarterback Marshall Mason, who scored the winning touchdown for St. Pius X, summing the playing conditions up best:
"It was fun."
Fun indeed when your team comes out on the winning end of an emotional West Central battle, and it improves your district resume and, oh by the way, it secures for another year your team's grasp on the Crystal Cup.
While the rivalry between St. Pius X and O'Hara dates back to the late 1960s, these two teams have been playing for a traveling trophy called the Crystal Cup for the last 13 years given by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Padraig Pearse Division 1 in Kansas City.
It looked like the trophy was in the bag after the first half when the Warriors (4-4) took a 14-0 lead into the locker room. First, Mason hit Kyle Deters on a 9-yard strike that was initially set up by a 42-yard punt return by Nicholas Kelliher. The second score came from tailback Gabe Akalugwu with less than a minute to play before intermission when he scored from five yards out. That was the benefit of a Celtic fumble on the previous possession.
"I think everything slowed down for everybody and it took a while for us to get our footing at first," Mason added about his team's slow start. "Once our line started moving, we were able to run the ball down the field."
In the second half, the Celtics (4-4) came out aggressive and were able to finally reach the end zone when Larry Bosworth scurried in on a 12-yard run. That series was kept alive when St. Pius roughed the punter earlier in the drive deep in the Warriors territory. O'Hara added another score early in the fourth quarter when Gerald Harker raced in from 16 yards out.
"On our weak side, they started to attack it, and took advantage of our outside guys and started hooking our ends and got outside and didn't come up and make the play on those," Warriors head coach Rick Byers said.
After that, both offenses spun their wheels in the mud, much the same way they did throughout the first quarter, struggling to move the ball; however, with less than a minute to play, St. Pius X had a chance to win on 31-yard field goal attempt from Daniel Hoambrecker. The kick was high enough and straight enough, it just didn't sail long enough as it hit the crossbar and bounded backward.
The Warriors on the toss and elected to take the ball first. Five plays later, Mason was in the end zone, and St. Pius X held a 21-14 lead.
When the Celtics took over, they had to convert a fourth and seven to keep the game going, but eventually, quarterback Michael Biggs crossed the goal line from two yards out to cut the lead to one. Celtics coach Jim DeMarea called timeout and opted to go for two points and the win in overtime rather than the tie and send it to a second overtime, but the Warriors defense held the line and prevailed.
"We had a timeout, and everyone kept saying we had a timeout, and I said 'Hey, that isn't going to make any difference if we call a timeout. We have to step up and make a play,' and our guys did," Byers said of the defensive stand. "The middle of our line, our toughest guys made plays."