Two young and rebuilding teams squared off Friday night, both in desperate search of a win and much-needed momentum in region play. It was the Landmark Christian War Eagles prevailing in the end, going on the road and holding off the Our Lady of Mercy Bobcats 19-7 in a defensive slugfest.
For three quarters, neither team could light up on the scoreboard. Strong defensive stands and offensive miscues kept the game scoreless, but it was all a prelude to a thrilling finish.
Landmark’s offense clicked into gear in the final frame, stringing together the night’s best drive, with sophomore quarterback Jax Fisher connecting with Donovan Pickett for a 16 yards to get into the red zone for the first time all night as the game headed to the fourth quarter. They nearly let the opportunity slip away when they fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line, but Luke Rowe pounced on it to keep the drive alive.
Fisher took advantage of the second chance, hitting Tyler Span on a quick slant for a 7-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt clanked off the right upright, but Landmark still had the first lead at 6-0.
Mercy handed the ball right back, fumbling the ball away on their next snap with Kamau Hopewell recovering it, but the Bobcats defense, keyed by a Colin Schmitz tackle in the backfield, forced a turnover on downs.
Landmark’s next two strikes would be lightning fast. Fisher found the end zone with his legs, running an option keeper and juking through the defense on a 38-yard touchdown run. The extra point attempt again ricocheted off the right upright to make it a 12-0 lead.
Following a turnover on downs near midfield, Landmark looked to put the game out of reach. On the first play of their next possession, Bernard Turner took a handoff and scampered through the middle of the defense for a 56-yard scoring run. A successful extra point from Avery Hipps staked the War Eagles to a 19-0 lead with 2:19 left to play.
Scrambling for a rally, Mercy looked to freshman quarterback Christian Burks for a spark, and he let it fly. Burks and fellow freshman Brandon Moss found a connection, first with a 19-yard completion. Burks then found Moss over the top of the defense for a 35-yard pickup, with a penalty tacked on to push the Bobcats into scoring position.
Bryson Mullens capped off the drive with a sweep around the right end for an 8-yard touchdown to cut the gap to 19-7.
The Bobcats thought they recovered the onside kick to keep their chances alive, but Landmark was awarded possession and took a knee to end the game.
The victory runs Landmark’s record to 2-4 with a matchup against Trinity Christian. A winless 2017 campaign is far in the rearview mirror, and the War Eagles are reaching closer to returning to their glory days.
Mercy, at 0-6, will travel to play 5-1 ELCA. The Bobcats, dressing out fewer than two dozen players, held their own under their new head man, Mark Miller. With just two seniors on the roster, they can continue to grow together towards a brighter future.
To see more photos from the game, click here.