Blue Devils missed it by that much
LOUISVILLE — Despite 60 minutes of gritty, inspired football, the Lisbon Blue Devils fell agonizingly short of their first playoff win in 13 season.
The fifth-seeded Blue Devils controlled the game for most of the first three quarters before being worn down by a bigger Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas squad in a 21-18 loss Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
“The kids played their butts off, they left it out here on the field. We just came up a little bit short,” Lisbon coach Jim Tsilimos said. “I love my kids. We weren’t supposed to hang with them and they gave we everything they had.
Aquinas kicker Andrew Jenkins booted an 18-yard field goal with one second left to send the fourth-seeded Knights (9-2) to a second-round matchup against top-seeded Cuyahoga Heights at 7:30 p.m. Friday at a site to be determined. Lisbon finishes its season at 9-2 for the second straight year.
“We were very motivated to come out to play tonight,” Lisbon quarterback Colin Sweeney said. “It was great to see the whole village here come out and support us. We gave it everything we had.
Lisbon was in position to take the lead when Jason Thompson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 18 with 1:28 left. The score was set up by a 59-yard pass from Colin Sweeney to Justin Sweeney.
After missing an extra point earlier in the game, the Blue Devils elected to go for a two-point conversion. Sweeney flipped a screen pass to Seth Stokes that was stopped inches short of the goal line.
“We took a shot and it didn’t work out, that’s football,” Colin Sweeney said.
“We talked about an extra point, but I wanted the two,” Tsilimos said.
The Knights took over ant their own 36 with one timeout left and wasted no time blasting their way down the field.
A 29 yard run by Andrew George and an 18-yard run on a jet sweep by Aaron Hoffman were the key plays to set up Jenkins’ game-winning field goal.
After being bottled up for the first three quarters, the Knights took an 18-12 lead with 3:49 left on a 37-yard touchdown run by Nathan Rich, capping a 10-play 70-yard drive after Lisbon turned the ball over on downs at the 30.
“They had some size and they started leaning on us late in the game,” Tsilimos said. “They’re a good team.
The Blue Devils effectively kept the Knights on their heels most of the game with ther triple-option attack. Colin Sweeney ran for 119 yards on 20 carries and got the Blue Devils on the board with a gorgeous fake that led to a 45-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to make it 6-3. Jason Thompson added 66 yards on 14 carries and stretched the lead to 12-3 with a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter in which he eluded multiple defenders.
The Lisbon defense held the Knights to just 76 total yards in the first half. Aquinas twice marched into the red zone in the first half, but Lisbon held them to a field goal and a turnover on downs.
“I broke the game down into minutes,” Tsilimos said. “I told them if we could get through the first 12 minutes we’d be alright. I was very happy with how we competed and executed the gameplan.
-Lisbons last playoff win came November 7, 2003 when the eighth-seeded Blue Devils upset fourth-seeded Dalton 14-6.
-The last time Lisbon made the playoffs two seasons in a row was 1998-1999
-Friday was the first ever football matchup between Lisbon and St. Thomas Aquinas.
ST. THOMAS: 3-0-7-11-21
ST-Andrew Jenkins 31 FG
L -Colin Sweeney 45 run (kick failed)
L-Jason Thompson 10 run (run failed)
ST-Nathan Rich 1 run (Jenkins kick)
ST-Nathan Rich 37 run (Palek run)
L-Jason Thompson 1 run (pass failed)
ST-Andrew Jenkins 18 FG