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Mistakes cost O'Connell football team in loss to John Carroll

Knights' second-half rally falls short
Bishop O’Connell’s Joe Williams (80) and Jack Digges (8) rush the kicker attempting to block an extra point against John Carroll during a Sept. 16 football game.

Having used three different quarterbacks and losing a game to a forfeit, inconsistency on offense has remained a constant for the Bishop O’Connell Knights, as the high-school football team has struggled to score and move the ball four games into the 2023 season.

That was the case in O’Connell’s most recent outing, a 22-13 home loss to the John Carroll Patriots of Bel Air, Md., in non-conference action Sept. 16.

The Knights (2-2) also were hampered by other costly mistakes, like an interception that set up a touchdown, a dropped TD catch and multiple penalties – some personal fouls – that either sustained John Carroll drives or whiped out good O’Connell gains.

The Knights never led, trailing 9-0 at halftime, cutting the lead to 9-7 in the third quarter, then falling behind 22-7.

“We are still figuring out our game plans and finding the rotations to build around,” O’Connell coach Todd Sabatino said. “And we can’t afford those penalties. We talk about that all the time, and that still happened today.”

O’Connell’s returning starting quarterback Jonathan Nguyen broke his ankle in the first game. Backup Henry Behrens played the second, a loss. After the Knights’ forfeit win over St. Albans in game three, Behrens started against John Carroll, but was replaced in the second quarter by freshman Max Stovall.

Stovall had some success by completing 8 of 13 passes and he threw a touchdown strike to Aidan Joseph (three catches, 46 yards). He was sacked three times and sometimes struggled to get the ball snapped in the allotted time.

“He’s a freshman, so he’s learning a lot fast. He will get better and will make our offense better,” Sabatino said. “He did some good things today.”

O’Connell’s other touchdown in the loss was a three-yard run by Nathan Harrison (17 yards rushing). The score was set up by a 42-yard pass from Stovall to Aidan Munroe (five catches, 37 yards).

Zach Harrison had two catches for 33 yards for the Knights and Mikhai Martin had 49 yards rushing, including runs of 22 and 16 yards. O’Connell had 173 total yards.

On special teams for O’Connell, Munroe had 49 yards in kick returns, Tyler Fontenot kicked an extra point, had punts of 42, 42 and 47 yards, and his 60-yard field-goal attempt fell just short, hitting the cross ball and bouncing away.

Munroe had a couple of long returns that were both nullified back because of penalties.

Top tacklers in the game for O’Connell’s defense were Kelly McConnell, Nathan Harrison, Joe Williams, Jack Digges and Zach Harrison. Frank Johnson broke up a pass and Williams batted down another.

Next up for O’Connell is another non-conference contest. The Knights play on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. in Annapolis against Annapolis Area Christian School, which has a 1-3 overall record.