By Randy Speer, The Circuit
Benedictine struggled offensively against Missouri Valley as the Ravens fell 16-10 in Marshall, Missouri Saturday night.
The No. 15 Ravens weren’t without opportunities to mount a comeback. Trailing 16-10, senior Kenny Hershberger grabbed an interception to set the Ravens up at midfield with just more than 2 minutes left.
Backup quarterback Kyle Harmyk, who entered midway through the third quarter to replace the struggling Jacob Koester, found Christian Haack for a 22-yard gain and put the Ravens at the Missouri Valley 32-yard line.
After back-to-back incomplete passes, a Harmyk run setup fourth-and-five. Harmyk tried to find David Claypool across the middle as the Viking blitz barred down on him, but the pass fell harmlessly to the turf, ending the Ravens’ comeback attempt.
Benedictine’s offense struggled throughout the contest only picked up 273 yards of offense and 10 first downs.
Koester finished the night 12-of-21 for 168 yards and three interceptions. Harmyk, in relief, finished 4-of-13.
On the ground, the Ravens (2-1) didn’t fare much better, pounding out 66 yards on 23 carries. Typical starter Tyler Henness did not play as he is nursing an injury leaving junior Ejay Johnson to carry the bulk of the carries. Johnson finished with 43 yards on 15 carries.
Benedictine got on the board first, taking its opening possession 63 yards to setup a Derek Rodgers’ field goal from 25-yards out.
After trading punts, Missouri Valley forced its first of three interceptions from starting quarterback Jacob Koester. The Vikings used the swift change of momentum to take their first lead of the night.
Freshman quarterback Jake Bridges found Jacoby Bellard wide open for a 56-yard touchdown strike. The PAT failed leaving the Vikings up 6-3.
Bridges finished 20-of-33 for 284 yards and a touchdown through the air. His legs may have played a bigger difference as he rushed for 53 yards on 16 carries evaded the Ravens’ pressure on multiple occasions.
Missouri Valley (3-0) had a chance to extend its lead midway through the second quarter, but the Raven defense held on third-and-goal to force a field goal attempt. Benedictine senior Matt Murrillo blocked the kick to leave the score 6-3.
The teams traded punts until Koester threw his second interception of the first half setting the Vikings up at the Raven 38-yard line with less than two minutes left in the half. A 12-yard reception put the Vikings within field goal position before three straight penalties forced them into a first-and-50 situation. They elected to run out the half and took a 6-3 lead into the break.
The Ravens regained the lead with 4:17 left in the third quarter as Koester found senior tight end Jerome Roehm on a 9-yard pass to go up 10-6.
Missouri Valley answered on the following drive as Bridges scrambled for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 13-10.
Koester’s night was finished after throwing his third interception, a pass thrown deep into double coverage that was returned to the Benedictine 30-yard line.
The Vikings turned the interception into a 25-yard field goal by Austin Johnson to give themselves a 16-10 lead.
Missouri Valley has proven to be Benedictine’s kryptonite as the Ravens have only beaten them once in the past 10 years, a 35-19 win in 2011.