STATE CENTER - Head coach Dick Tighe struggled to sugarcoat his St. Edmond football team's performance here Friday night.
What was billed as a must-see showdown between two of the elite Class 2A programs in the state ultimately ended in a one-sided affair in favor of the home squad.
With a potential District 7 title hanging in the balance, the No. 4 Gaels (6-1 overall, 4-1 in the district) were doubled up by unbeaten and second-ranked West Marshall (7-0, 5-0) in a 42-21 decision.
"There's no question (the Trojans) were the real deal," Tighe said. "They weren't the most physical team we've faced this year, but they were just too fast, and we couldn't find a way to slow them down."
After falling behind 7-0 midway through the first quarter, SEHS answered right back three plays later on its ensuing drive when senior tailback Neil Flattery broke free off the left end for a 63-yard dash to paydirt. The PAT attempt failed, however, which proved to be an ominous sign for the rest of the evening.
"We were able to move the ball against their defense at times," said Tighe. "I thought Neil ran the ball pretty hard again."
West Marshall - Dalton Ferch (51-yard pass from Braydn Beals), 7:37 left first. Ron Wilkey kick.
St. Edmond - Neil Flattery (63-yard run), 6:15 left first. Kick failed.
West Marshall - Ferch (1-yard run), 9:30 left second. Wilkey kick.
West Marshall - Ferch (14-yard run), 2:57 left second. Wilkey kick.
West Marshall - Ferch (1-yard run), :15 left second. Wilkey kick.
West Marshall - Tysen Streeter (96-yard interception return), :30 left third. Wilkey kick.
St. Edmond - Alex Mericle (10-yard run), 8:42 left fourth. Flattery conversion run.
St. Edmond - Mericle (1-yard run), 5:39 left fourth. Nick Clark kick.
West Marshall - Ferch (29-yard run), 2:10 left fourth. Wilkey kick.
Rushing - St. Edmond: Neil Flattery 26-177, Alex Mericle 10-33, Aaron McElroy 6-9, Matt Stumpf 1-7, David Flattery 3-4, Vinnie Harvey 1-3; West Marshall: Dalton Ferch 22-178, Tysen Streeter 6-30, Braydn Beals 9-19, Tanner Stalzer 1-8, Josh Bunn 1-8, Devin Chesler 1-2.
Passing - St. Edmond: David Flattery 4-12-1-52; West Marshall: Beals 7-12-1-185.
Receiving - St. Edmond: Patrick Champa 2-36, Nick Clark 1-13, Neil Flattery 1-3. West Marshall: Dalton Ferch 2-99, Bunn 3-36, Streeter 1-36, Duncan Ferch 1-14.
From there, West Marshall's high-octane offense - which came in averaging 46.3 points and 414 yards per game - found it's groove and marched up and down the field at will, effectively delivering the knockout punch with a 21-0 barrage in the second period.
Outside of Flattery's touchdown run, the stymied Gaels managed only 61 yards of total offense in their 18 other plays before the half.
"We made some little careless mistakes that came back to hurt us," Tighe said. "You just can't afford to do that and still expect to beat a team the caliber of (West Marshall)."
St. Edmond also saw what looked to be a promising drive halted on a 96-yard interception return to the endzone by Tysen Streeter in the waning moments of the third frame.
Trailing by as many as 29 points (35-6) in the final quarter, the Gaels found a way to slice into the deficit behind a pair of scoring jaunts - from 10 and 1-yard out respectively - by junior Alex Mericle.
On the night, SEHS finished with 285 yards of total offense - 233 rushing and 52 passing - compared to 430 - 245 rushing and 185 passing - for the Trojans.
Flattery supplied a bright spot for the green and white with 177 yards on 26 carries.
Defensively, the Gaels were anchored by senior safety Nick Clark (interception) and classmate defensive end Patrick Champa (sack).
First-team all-stater Dalton Ferch ignited West Marshall with 178 yards and four touchdowns on 22 totes. Ferch also hauled in a 51-yard scoring reception from quarterback Braydn Beals, who went 7-for-12 through the air.
"We had no answers for Ferch all night," said Tighe. "He's really improved since last year and is a much better back than I thought he was.
"Hopefully, we can put this behind us now and get ready for the Tigers."
The Gaels host Gilbert Friday for Senior Night and wrap up their regular season the following week at South Hardin.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org