The Herculaneum Blackcats stumbled early in Week 8 with a dreadful 22-0 first quarter performance, but showed brilliant resolve the rest of the way. Sadly, their comeback fell just short and they were bested by the Perryville Pirates 22-20, dropping their record to 5-3. The loss comes at a poor time as well, considering District seeding is still up in the air.
The first quarter was an absolute nightmare for the Blackcats, as a plethora of turnovers and miscues led to three Pirate touchdowns and a field goal. It was a crushing blow to say the least, considering Herky was never able to fully recover.
Head Coach Blane Boss commented on the opening effort with, “Our first quarter couldn’t have been any worse with us spotting them 22 points from multiple fumbles, dropped punt snaps, interceptions and a blown coverage. We came out thinking we could just show up and that would be enough.”
The Pirates used a 50-yard passing TD, a 27-yard field goal and 26 and 12-yard rushing scores to do all the damage in just 12 minutes, but the Blackcats were not going to go down easy.
The defense stepped up and blanketed Perryville for the rest of the way, and the offense finally got back in sync. In the second quarter Lucas Bahr showed some resilience with a 23-yard run into the endzone to get Herky on the board. Sadly, the extra point failed, but it cut the deficit to 22-6 heading into the half.
The Herculaneum defense continued to hold strong to start the second half and, after a long drive, Mike Moloney busted in to the endzone from two yards out to cut the lead to 22-12. That set the stage for the fourth quarter, where the Blackcats were able to convert again from two yards out on another run by Moloney. The two-point try was good as well to make it 22-20, but Herky came up empty after that and the score would hold.
Quarterback Jackson Dearing had a successful, yet frustrating game. He worked the ball efficiently down the field to set up the three Blackcats TDs on his 25-of-31 passes for 250 yards, but threw a couple of costly picks.
On the running side of things, Moloney was the workhorse, toting the rock 24 times for 85 yards and two scores. He also chipped in with three catches for 26 yards. Speaking of receiving, Bahr was once again the man in this one, leading the team with eight grabs for 98 yards. He was efficient on the ground as well, rushing nine times for 80 yards and a score. Dylan Jarvis and Luke Liles each caught six passes for 57 and 60 yards, respectively.
Defensively the Blackcats recorded 45 total tackles and looked like their usual dominant selves after the first quarter. Shea Eberhardt led the way with eight and Jarvis racked up seven.
Here is what Coach Boss had to say about the overall effort. “Our kids did battle until the very end to come just a little short. In the end, we just dug too big of a hole in the first half, especially the first quarter, to get out of. Demian Light played a heck of a game on defense and both Jarvis and Liles had big games on both sides of the ball. Moloney had some tough runs between the tackles for us as well.”
Herky will look to close out the regular season with a win and possibly change their fortunes when it comes to positioning in Districts. On Friday, October 21st they will take on Crystal City at home for a chance to move to 6-3 and gear up for the playoffs.