It wasnt the travel, it wasnt the jitters, it wasnt lack of heart or aggression that led to the Phoenix dropping their first game of the 2021 season. It was mistakes. Pure and simple.
Early on, it was the offense. After the Phoenix defense got a 4th and goal stop, the offense put together a few first downs before having their first interception of the game. After a Kurse score, the Phoenix then again gave the ball away on a second interception. The Kurse again capitalized, making the score 13-0. Taking the field halfway through the second quarter, with the offense needing to make something happen, Gary Charleston found running room on the right side of the field, finding the endzone.
However, with the score 14-6 with just seconds left in the 1st half, the Phoenix suffered their next major mistake, giving away a hail mary touchdown with 1.4 seconds left in the half. The score going into the break was 20-6.
Coming out of halftime, the Phoenix traveled the field down to the 4 yard line. On 4th and goal, quarterback Austin Hensley was stalled on a quarterback draw that ended that drive. The Phoenix defense continued to play solidly, however, a few breakdowns on 3rd and 4th and long situations allowed Kurse drives to continue. The Phoenix offense continued to gain ground only to lose it due to ill timed penalties, eventually leading to the Kurse expanding their lead to 26-6.
In the 4th quarter, after a Javaghn Peterson interception, the Phoenix found paydirt on a 3 yard blast up the left side from Kelvin Thomas. A turnover on the ensuing two point conversion led to an extra two points for the Kurse, making the score 28-12.
With 1:40 to play, the Phoenix tried an onside kick which was initially grasped by a Phoenix player, yet the fall to the ground cause it to squirt away, and with it the chances of any comeback.
This is going to be a full season of football for the Phoenix football team, not only in Arena, but also in outdoor 11-man. While we did take the loss, we crossed a few milestones in traveling so far to play a skilled opponent. A few less mistakes and who knows what could have come of it. For now, we get back to work as another good opponent lurks right around the corner in the Central Illinois Royals.
Game is set for 6:45 next Saturday in Waukegan.