Iron Horses display strong effort in season opener, fall by one point
Most football coaches will tell you they see the biggest improvement in their team in Week 2 of the season. Opening games can be marred by jitters, mistakes and other malfunctions. An extra week of practice and more time in the film room gives a coach a chance to fine tune his team.
Philip Simmons coach Eric Bendig concurs. The Iron Horses had a strong effort in the season-opener, when they traveled to St. John’s to play the Islanders at Biggerstaff Stadium. The PSHS team, however, was on the wrong side of a 14-13 decision, and Bendig has decided to look ahead and not back as the Iron Horses prepare for their home-opener Friday against Georgetown.
“When you lose by one point, there’s a tendency to look at the film and say, ‘a play here, a play there.’ We missed an extra point, so there’s the one point. But that’s not why we lost. We had our chances. I loved the preparation. I loved the intensity. We were in great shape. It was a hot night and we were able to avoid cramping up.”
The good news is the Iron Horses should be much improved on defense in 2019 if the first game is an indicator. They gave up 39.5 points a game last year, but were impressive against the Islanders, allowing 293 yards in total offense, including 242 yards on the ground.
Junior Tyler Harper and senior Jaylan Richardson led the team with 16 and 15 tackles, respectively. The Iron Horses forced four turnovers. Harper, Will Rainey and Omari Morgan recovered fumbles while RJ Watson picked off a pass. But the bad news is they couldn’t convert those opportunities into points.
The offense struggled against the athletic Islanders as PSHS ran 52 plays from scrimmage and netted only 192 yards in total offense.
The Iron Horses had a chance to change their fate late in the game as they moved the ball into the red zone. But a 15-yard penalty took the team out of field-goal range and sealed their fate.
“I felt we were in good shape,” Bending said. “I felt we could punch the ball in. But that clipping call moved it back to the 25-yard line.”
Tripp Williams accounted for 120 of the Iron Horses’ 192 yards in total offense. He completed 11 of 25 pass attempts for 100 yards to five different receivers. Connor White led the Iron Horses with four catches for 40 yards.
The Iron Horses led 6-0 at halftime thanks to a nice run by Javier Collins-Smith who displayed good moves and power on his 11-yard TD run. Collins-Smith led the team with 34 yards rushing on 13 carries.
The Islanders tied the score at 6-6 early in the third quarter, but the Iron Horses responded with a drive that was capped by William’s 19-yard TD pass to Peyton Woolridge to give the Iron Horses a 13-6 lead late in the third quarter.
But the Islanders scored in the fourth quarter and converted a two-point conversion. That dropped the Iron Horses to 0-6 on the road in the team’s brief history.