By Randy Speer, The Circuit
Benedictine once again shot themselves in the foot, falling 34-29 to Graceland Saturday afternoon in Lamoni, Iowa behind three Yellow Jacket defensive touchdowns and four interceptions by quarterback Jacob Koester.
The Yellow Jackets mustered just 13 points on offense – two field goals and a touchdown – as the Ravens limited their ground game to 64 yards.
The No. 19 Ravens (5-3, 1-1 Heart North) started strong, going 65-yards in nine plays capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run by junior Ejay Johnson. Kicker Derek Rodgers missed the point after attempt, leaving the lead at 6-0.
Graceland took back the lead with its first interception by Marcus Zweifel, who promptly returned it 15-yards to give the Yellow Jackets a 7-6 lead with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Ravens bounced back from the turnover as Johnson took in his second touchdown run of the game, this time from 16-yards out. Benedictine attempted to go for the two-point conversion, but Koester’s pass to Christian Haack was broken up in the end zone.
The Yellow Jacket’s first offense points came from the foot of kicker Wade Metcalf, the former Bishop LeBlond kicker, who knocked through a 35-yard attempt to cut the deficit to 12-10.
Graceland regained the lead as Darius Wilkerson recovered a fumble by Johnson on a pitch from Koester and took it 86-yards for the score and the 17-12 lead.
Rogers added a 29-yard field goal with 1:26 left in the first half to bring the Ravens within two at 17-15, a score that would hold until halftime.
Graceland (3-5, 1-1) added to its lead coming out of the break as Kenneth Coleman rushed in from a yard out, set up by a 30-yard reception by Derrell Brooks from Preston Compton.
Benedictine answered right back as Koester found Haack for a 49-yard scoring reception, cutting the lead to 24-22.
After trading punts, the Yellow Jacket defense got its third defensive touchdown of the afternoon, this time Aaron Corbin grabbed the Koester pass and took it back 84-yards to give Graceland a 31-22 lead with nine seconds left in the third quarter.
The Ravens moved the ball out to midfield before Koester threw his third interception of the day, which the Yellow Jackets parlayed into a 20-yard chip shot for Metcalf with 3:21 remaining and a 34-21 lead.
Benedictine made a last ditch effort to stave off the upset, as Johnson, who finished with 107 yards on 22 carries in the absences of Tyler Henness, punched in his third touchdown from a yard out to cut the Graceland lead to 34-29.
Graceland recovered the onside kick, but couldn’t run the clock out, giving the Ravens the ball back with 30 seconds left on the Yellow Jackets 25-yard line.
The Yellow Jackets sealed the win with their fourth interception, as Zweifel came down with his second pick of the game.
This is the first time that Benedictine has lost to Graceland since 2007.