FCIAC

Xavier 3, Staples 0: Wreckers’ Errors Are Correctable, But No Less Vexing

Andrew Verre's field goal with 1.3 seconds left lifted Xavier to a 3-0 win over Staples on Friday night.

Andrew Verre’s field goal with 1.3 seconds left lifted Xavier to a 3-0 win over Staples on Friday night.

WESTPORT — On a night when it took 47 minutes and 58.7 seconds for the winning — and only— points to be scored, the aspect of his team’s 3-0 loss to Xavier on Friday night that most irritated Staples coach Marce Petroccio was also something that could provide some partial comfort.

The Wreckers’ defeat was due in part to a series of mental mistakes on offense. A bad snap, dropped passes, consecutive illegal procedure penalties late in the third quarter to stop a drive that was gaining momentum.

Staples could hardly gain any traction, and while it would be a huge disservice not to give Xavier any credit, there will be a lot of unhappy Wrecker players when Petroccio reviews game tape with them.

Hudl will reveal a muddle.

“We need work,” Petroccio said. “There’s just something not right. I don’t know what it is. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot like we did. You can’t do that against a team like this. We gave them way too many chances.”

If there is an opposite to 7 on 7 football, it was on display in Westport on Friday night.

Jackson Ward intercepts a pass on a fake field goal in the end zone for Staples.

Jackson Ward intercepts a pass on a fake field goal in the end zone for Staples.

The Wreckers were held to just 97 yards. Their longest play was a 14-yard scramble by quarterback Teddy Coogan. There was a fumble on the Xavier 17 early in the second quarter.

“We’ve got to get our act together offensively,” Petroccio said.

The night’s brightest spot was Staples’ defense matched Xavier’s until the very end. The Falcons had just 76 yards until their final possession. They had a third-and-goal from the Wreckers’ 2 in the third quarter, but quarterback Michael Scherer was called for intentional grounding as he was pressured rolling out, and a pass on a fake field goal was picked off by Jackson Ward in the end zone.

But it was Scherer who came up with the biggest play of the evening, on the final possession. On third-and-eight from his own 22, Scherer bobbed and weaved, got outside and scrambled for 35 yards. A late hit penalty put the ball on the Wreckers’ 33.

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From there Ted Duarte, the Falcons’ workhorse on the night, got six straight carries, the first for 14 yards, the last putting the ball on the 2.

Staples' Nick Esposito is brought down after a reception.

Staples’ Nick Esposito is brought down after a reception.

Andrew Verre came on and hit essentially an extra point, breaking the scoreless tie with a 19-yard field goal.

“We played with a lot of heart,” Coogan said. “Our defense giving up three points, that’s a hell of a job by them. I’ve got to step it up for this team.”

Coogan is one of the Wreckers’ emotional leaders — he came over to the sideline during a first-down measurement late in the game and shouted, “Hey guys, we’re going to win this game” — and while he surely will have better nights, he assigned himself too much of the blame.

“We’ve got to get our offense rolling,” Coogan said. “It’s all about execution. We have the best coaches in the state. They tell us what we have to do. We just have to execute.”

The good news was Staples’ defense, led by a monstrous effort from Will Newman on the line.

“He was ridiculous,” Petroccio said. “Unbelievable. He had a great night. The defense played great. They hung in there as long as they could.”

Petroccio promised some changes would be coming in the lineup. He said he needed to get some more speed on the field.

Mental errors gnaw at coaches. But on opening night, when it is too early to make grand pronouncements, it was better for Petroccio to have correctable problems than a lack of talent.

“That’s right,” Petroccio said. “But it’s the way we lost. It’s rough.”