Falcons’ wings clipped by Red Raiders
The last time the Abbotsford Falcons hosted the Marathon Red Raiders it was a sunny, warm August day in 2019. The Falcons would win that match-up 21-0 en route to an undefeated regular season.
A year later, on a chilly, dark October night, the only similarity was that Abbotsford was once again hosting as the Red Raiders blanked Abby 15-0.
The Falcons’ defense gave up just two scores, but Abby’s offense failed to generate any momentum. Untimely turnovers and injuries gashed the Falcons just as much as a Marathon run game that racked up over 200 yards on the ground.
“Friday’s game was two teams almost at equal points with talent [and] experience,” Falcons head coach Jake Knapmiller said. “In those situations everything that normally plays a factor in a game gets magnified, like penalties and calls (one way or other) by refs, special teams plays, etc.”
Marathon routinely drove down the field, but the Falcons’ defense came up with numerous turnovers and the Red Raider’s first three possessions all ended on either a fumble or interception.
The first came when Carlos Lara recovered Matt Annis’ fumble at the Falcons’ 15-yard line. Abby picked up six yards and Hunter Soyk was forced to punt. Marathon went back to the ground game, and went down to the Falcons’ nine-yard line, but Cade Faber picked off Marathon’s Ben Robbins at the one-yard line.
The Falcons took over in the shadow of their own endzone, but a false start penalty made it 3rd and 6. This time it was the Red Raiders defense who came up a big play, scoring the first points of the night on a safety when Soyk was tackled in the endzone to make it 2-0 just before the end of the first quarter.
Marathon got the ball back and Matt Annis and Jared and Jake Sweno took turns toting the ball. For the third consecutive time the Red Raiders were knocking on the endzone, but again the Falcons forced and recovered a fumble.
Abby picked up a first down on a six yard gain from Cade Faber, but on the next play the Falcons fumbled the ball, gifting the Red Raiders with a fresh set of downs inside Abby’s territory.
The defense again answered the call, stopping Marathon’s drive with a sack of Robbins courtesy of Bryce Draper and Christian Ploeckleman. Abby got the ball back and converted a big fourth down play on a Soyk scamper, but back to back Abby fumbles killed the drive, and the Falcons were forced to punted.
“Defense gave us a shot, we had zero flow offensively,” Knapmiller said. “I’ll take the blame for that as a play caller. We also had a few chances to hit big open passes and didn’t execute. We just need to do a better job overall in preparation and execution of our offense.”
Marathon had a short field to work with, and marched 33-yards to score from nine yards out. The PAT was good, giving the visitors a 9-0 lead going into halftime.
The Falcons took the opening kick-off of the second half and drove to midfield, but were forced to punt. The Red Raiders methodically moved the ball on multiple pitch-and-run plays.
“We struggled on finishing on QB sacks and tackling in general. One play, the toss play really hurt us and it was partly because they executed, but mostly because we didn’t understand or execute our jobs,” Knapmiller said.
The Red Raiders scored their final touchdown of the night, but Abby stopped the two point conversion to make it a 15-0 ball game.
The Falcons converted several first downs on their next possession, including a 20-yard catch and run by Mason Carpenter, that was the Falcons’ longest play from scrimmage.
Soyk found Wellman on a 12-yard reception that took Abby down to the Red Raider’s five yard line, but the Falcons fumbled the snap and eventually turned the ball over on downs.
From there the Red Raiders milked the clock, using the run game to pick up first downs, taking time away from Abby’s offense, and held the Falcons scoreless.
Abbotsford was held to 100 yards of total offense. Faber led Abby with 26 yards rushing and Wellman added another 19. Soyk finished with two completions for 32 yards, one to Carpenter for 20 yards, the other to Wellman for 12. Soyk led the way on defense with 12 total tackles and Carpenter finished with seven tackles.
Knapmiller continues to see the good and the bad, but knows that if the Falcons want to add wins to their season, improvements have to come soon.
“Everyone had a play or two that they really played well, but we made way more mistakes than good plays as a whole.
“We can dwell on the few good things, or pick a few things that we can improve on for next week and that’s hopefully what we do.”