The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Spires use air attack to upset No. 19 Friends

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  • The University of Saint Mary football team downed No. 19 Friends University 38-35 on Saturday afternoon, marking the first time USM has beaten a top 20 team. It was quarterback Mike Keese who led the Spire attack, the sophomore quarterback completing 26-of-59 passes for 400 yards, helping him earn KCAC offense player of the week honors.
    Saint Mary passed for all five of its touchdowns on Saturday, just as head coach Lance Hinson said they’d planned.
    “Going into the game we looked at Friends’ defense and we felt like where we had an advantage and where we could get some points on the board was against their secondary,” Hinson said. “The kids executed. Mike did a great job running the offense on Saturday, the offensive line protected him well and the receivers ran good routes and made some key catches.”
    It was a 41-yard field goal by Bobby Schattle that got USM on the board with the only points of the first quarter. From there, the Spires and Falcons traded touchdowns. USM used a 16-yard pass from Keese to Fred Edison to take a 10-0 advantage early in the second quarter, but Friends answered with a 15-yard touchdown run. The Falcons would take a short-lived lead on a 27-yard touchdown pass with about four minutes left before halftime, but Saint Mary charged right back with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Keese to Cameron Ridley to send the Spires into the locker room with a 17-14 halftime lead.
    “It was a back-and-forth game,” Hinson said. “We jumped out to the lead, but Friends is a good football team and they came back. It was exciting.”
    The teams continued to keep fans on the edges of their seats, Friends striking first in the third quarter with an eight-yard TD toss. Keese found Edison in the end zone with a 14-yard pass to put USM back on top once again, but the Falcons answered with an eight-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the third. Keese and Edison connected once again, this time on a five-yard touchdown pass, to start the fourth, but a 3-yard run by Friends put them on top with just under five minutes to play.
    It was with 2:47 left on the clock that Keese hit Billy Owens for what would be the game-winning touchdown.
    “They got us to 4th-and-5 with about two minutes left in the game,” Hinson described. “We’d been hitting short all day, so our offensive coordinator Coach (Jay) Osborne called a hitch and go and we got the corner to jump on the hitch. Billy Owens made a good move, Mike threw a great pass. Their free safety actually tipped the ball, but Billy still caught it and ran it in 48 yards.”
    Hinson said the defense then made a stop to seal the win.
    Page 2 of 2 - “They got a couple first down, but then we held them on 4th-and-6,” the Spire coach said. “Terrell Harper and Chris Searles knocked the ball out of the receiver’s hands to preserve the victory.”
    Edison had eight catches for 72 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday and Ridley had one touchdown on five catches and 102 total yards. Owens had 95 yards on five catches and Alonzo Hudson had four catches for 79 yards.
    In addition to his 41-yard field goal, Schattle also made all five PAT kicks. Ridley ran it twice for 16 yards and Mark Walsh ran it twice for 12 yards.
    Chris Barrett had seven solo tackles and two assists while Noah Wooten had six unassisted and six assisted tackles.
    Since his young team has had some growing pains, Hinson said that Saturday’s win goes a long way for team morale.
    “They practice hard and they listen and they’re learning,” Hinson said of his team. “I’ve gotten to see them grown, but it hasn’t always been real apparent on the field. ... To come out and play like that and get a win over a nationally ranked team, now that validates what we’ve been doing.”
    USM is back at home on Saturday, hosting Sterling College for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. The Spires bring a 2-5 conference mark into the game, but they’ve won two of their last three. Sterling is 4-3 in the KCAC coming into Saturday’s game on a three-game win streak.
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