Festus Runs Out Clock On Sullivan Comeback

Sullivan trimmed a 20-point third quarter deficit down to just seven Friday night against Festus.

Scoreless through the first 32 minutes of game clock, Sullivan came alive on an 86-yard kickoff return touchdown by Jason Blankenship.

A 1-yard score by Blaine Blankenship midway through the fourth quarter had Sullivan down by one touchdown.

But the Tigers were able to run nearly five minutes off the clock and a banged-up Eagles squad fell short 20-13 in Week 2.

Sullivan left Crystal City — the game was moved due to construction at Festus — with injuries across the offensive line. Three different centers snapped the ball and despite muggy temperatures, whistle-happy referees and a 20-minute power outage, the Eagles still put themselves in position for a comeback.

Sullivan took over with 1:16 left in the game and could only pick up a first down. Festus took over on downs after three straight incompletions.

Festus outgained Sullivan in offensive yardage 320-152. Both teams racked up penalties on a night where the referees were eager to grab the whistles. Festus was called for nine penalties and Sullivan eight.

The difference came on field position and turnovers. Sullivan regularly began deep in their own territory and had three giveaways. 

Festus went up 6-0 in the first quarter when Mason Kennon hauled in a third down pass that gave the Tigers the ball at the Sullivan 2. Austin Anderson punched the ball in one play later for a touchdown with 4:53 to go. The kick was no good and Festus led 6-0.

Two drives later, Cole Wagner set the Tigers up with strong field position when he returned the ball to the Sullivan 25. A first down penalty eventually set Festus back 10 yards. On third-and-20, they got a 10-yard gain. On fourth-and-10, Wagner pulled in a first down catch at the Sullivan 5. Quarterback Collin Doyel rushed for the first of two touchdowns at the 9:35 mark in the second quarter. 

Festus initially tried for a two-point pass, but it was broken up. Referees spent the next few minutes debating and decided to rule it a pass interference. On the next try, Jackie Robinson plowed in for a two-point run and a 14-0 lead.

Sullivan turned the ball over on their next two possessions, both on interceptions. The second came with seconds left in the first half. The Eagles trailed 14-0 at the break.

Wagner had a 76-yard punt return touchdown called back midway through the third quarter. Festus still nosed their way into the end zone on Doyel’s 1-yard run with 3:31 left. 

A week after Blaine Blankenship sparked Sullivan with special teams play, Jason Blankenship followed. Thirteen seconds after Doyel’s run, Blankenship took the kickoff 86 yards for his first varsity touchdown. 

Needing to quickly gain possession to stay in the game, Sullivan called for an onside kick. Blaine Blankenship kicked off and recovered the ball, setting the Eagles up with good field position. Sullivan advanced into Festus territory. Quarterback Levi Hurt connected with Trevor Hamblin and Blaine Blakenship for catches of 13 and 23 yards. 

On third down, Hurt appeared to have found Hamblin for a first down, but after a lengthy debate, referees ruled Sullivan had an ineligible receiver down field. It became fourth down and Sullivan turned the ball over on an incomplete pass. 

Festus punted the ball away on their next possession. Sullivan attacked with a big catch by Jason Blankenship, aided by a roughing-the-pass penalty. The Eagles advanced the ball inside the Festus 5 and following three straight runs, Blaine Blankenship found the end zone on fourth down with 6:02 remaining. The kick by Devyn Harmon cut the deficit to 20-13.

Sullivan Independent News

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