DENVER -- No one player has ever won a football game. But David Sommers came close in the waning moments of Holy Family's game Saturday at All-City Stadium.
The quarterback orchestrated the game-winning drive to help the fifth-ranked Tigers survive a scare in its Northern League opener against Thomas Jefferson. The junior came up with every yard and the winning score for a 17-14 comeback win over the Spartans. But there was little celebration out of Sommers after his late-game heroics.
Impressive as his moves were when they mattered most, the quarterback believed it was a situation his team should have avoided in the first place.
"We were down so we knew we had to get a score," he said. "But what we did on that drive, it needed to be there the whole game. If it would have been, it would have been a whole different ball game."
Sommers delivered Holy Family (5-1, 1-0) the winning score midway through the fourth quarter, moving the ball 83 yards in seven plays. The quarterback dissected the Thomas Jefferson's (3-3, 0-1) defense with two passes and five runs. He finished the push with a 2-yard touchdown with 4 minutes and 5 seconds left on the clock. And while his offense appeared reborn on the drive, the quarterback promised it was anything but.
"The difference was we didn't make any mistakes," said Sommers, who finished the afternoon with 250 all-purpose yards. "We caught the ball, made our blocks and everything (went right)."
Where the Tigers suffered in the game was stymied long drives around the red zone and turnovers. The team's first two possessions put them within striking distance, but both ended in failed fourth-down conversions. Due to the late-drive slumps, the team did not get on the board until midway through the second quarter with a 23-yard field goal by Marco Lonardo. But as Mike D. Gabriel points out, the team's failure to score earlier was partly due to the kicker not being 100 percent.
"He's got a pulled glute," the Holy Family coach said. "We didn't even think he was going to be able to kick today during pre-game."
The turnovers were even more devastating. Holy Family fumbled the ball four times with Thomas Jefferson recovering three of them. The final two times the Tigers mishandiing the ball almost cost the team the game. The Spartans collected easy points in the third and fourth quarters off Holy Family fumbles on the team's own 5- and 22-yard lines.
"Maybe the cold was getting to our heads or something like that," said Sommers, whose pitches on option plays lead to the final two fumbles. "But it shouldn't be that way."
It is not a game Gabriel will regale future Tigers with, but the coach definitely did not turn his nose up at the win.
"We'll take it any way we can get it," he said.
And, despite miscues and fizzled drives, he saw bright spots in his team's will to win. But the coach was cautionary about his the Tigers flying by the seat of their pants to victory.
"We know we can win when we're down and we'll fight and scrape," Gabriel said. "But I also think we know how close we came to missing some of our goals."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Holy Family 17, Thomas Jefferson 14
At All City Stadium
Holy Family (5-1, 1-0) 0 10 0 7 -- 17
Thomas Jefferson (3-3, 0-1) 0 0 7 7 -- 14
Holy Family -- Marco Lonardo 23 field goal.
Holy Family -- David Sommers 7 run (Lonardo kick).
Thomas Jefferson -- Sheik Kamara 4 run (Ty Roder kick).
Thomas Jefferson -- Curis Brown 1 run (Roder kick).
Holy Family -- Sommers 2 run (Lonardo kick).
First downs 17 12
Rushes-yards 37-141 44-138
Passing yards 208 42
Comp-Att-Int 14-21-0 6-19-0
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-50 6-35
RUSHING -- Holy Family: DeHerrera 14-56, Sommers 19-46, Dinsmore 4-39; Thomas Jefferson: Kamara 14-61, Lednev 8-0, Martin 13-58, Brown 6-25, Johnson 1-1, Jones-Robnett 1-(-2), Rivera 1-(-5).
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Holy Family: Sommers 14-21-0, 208 yards; Thomas Jefferson: Lednev 6-19-0, 40, Munoz 1-1-0, 2 yards.
RECEIVING -- Holy Family: Hollwedel 4-71, Schafer 1-11, DeHerrera 4-15, Erb 2-53, Johnson 2-10, Almieda 1-34, Dinsmore 1-14; Thomas Jefferson: Woldu 2-16, McAfee 1-15, Rivera 1-2, Perigen 1-5.