Friday may have been the last game at the more than 70-year-old Abeles Field. It certainly was the last home game for the Immaculata football team’s seniors, so it would’ve been a good night for Imac to snap its five-game losing streak.
For a little while Friday, it looked like they might. After stumbling early to a 16-0 deficit, the young Raiders played a quarter-and-a-half of solid football, scoring twice to narrow the game to one-possession going into halftime. But the Raiders couldn’t recapture their magic in the second half and ended up falling 44-20.
“It has been a roller-coaster season,” Imac coach Sean Sachen said. “Overall, I think our guys are getting better, and I was proud of how hard they played tonight.”
Early on, it looked like Abeles would go out with a whimper. The visitors ran the ball effortlessly on their first drive. On Immaculata’s first possession, the Raiders bobbled a hand-off and punted on fourth and 20. Troy scored easily again thereafter, taking a quick 16-0 lead.
“It took us a drive or two to wake up,” said Sachen.
Imac got it going on their second drive. Freshman signal caller Drew Sachen made some gritty runs. When he didn’t run it, he handed off to senior Dustin Jostmeyer. There was also a pass play mixed in, a 12-yarder to Cory Holcomb that set the table for Jostmeyer to rush it in from one yard out for IMAC’s first score.
“Justin ran really hard,” said Sachen. “Anytime we can get him going our offense is going to move the ball pretty well, because that then opens it up for Drew [Sachen] to run too.”
IMAC started to slow the Troy offense. However, after trading punts, Troy scored again. Though this time, they had to grind for their yards.
“There was a good stretch there where it was a good game,” said Sachen. “They were coming at us, and we were coming right back at them.”
The game could’ve got out of hand before the third quarter if not for the Raiders’ final drive of the half. Sachen and Jostmeyer drove Imac down the yellowing field to the door of the end zone. Sachen spiked the ball at the two-yard line with 13 seconds left. Following two ineffective plays, Sachen called Jostmeyer’s number for a run up the gut on fourth down and with one second left on the game clock. After the officials picked apart the pile, they signaled a touchdown.
The crucial score brought it to 22-14 going into the locker room. Unfortunately, that was the dramatic climax of the game for Raider fans.
“We thought we would come out [in the 3rd quarter] and move the ball and tie it, but it didn’t happen,” Sachen said.
Instead, it was the Trojans that started moving the ball with ease at the end of the third quarter. They scored to take a two-possession lead at the start of the fourth. On Imac’s last-hope drive, they went three and out before fumbling the punt attempt, giving Troy a short field and the win.
Immaculata scratched out one more score, a passing touchdown from Sachen, but by that point an onside kick seemed pointless. The Raiders didn’t attempt one.
The Raiders, 2-6 overall and 0-2 in district play, go on the road to McLouth for their final regular season game Friday.