Justice O'Conner
Justice O'Conner
(RV)St. Ambrose
Missouri Baptist University
Football - Sat, Sep. 23, 2017

A big effort from Justice O'Conner and a fourth-quarter rally weren't enough as St. Ambrose stumbled 42-37 at Missouri Baptist Saturday afternoon.

The Bees struggled to stop the Spartans, a team that averaged just 7.7 points over their first three games, all losses. Missouri Baptist rushed for 254 yards as part of 425 yards of total offense in handing St. Ambrose its second straight loss after the Bees opened the year with a pair of wins.

Down 35-17, SAU finally came alive in the fourth. Jake Romani connected with Chase Ferger on a 17-yard touchdown 49 seconds into the quarter to get the Bees to within 35-23. After a defensive stop, St. Ambrose found the end zone again. Lucas Boraas got open for an 88-yard reception to get SAU down to the MBU 4-yard line. Four plays later, on a fourth-and-goal play, Romani kept it himself and scored from two yards out to trim the deficit to 35-30 with 9:09 to play.

Again the defense came through. Sacks from John Rehfeld and Sam Kabureck on consecutive plays forced a Spartan punt. But the Bees went three-and-out and gave the ball back to Missouri Baptist. 

On the first play following Kenny Rowe's punt, MBU scored on a 64-yard touchdown run to rebuild a 42-30 lead with 2:50 left.

Romani engineered a quick five-play, 60-yard drive, culminating in a 15-yard touchdown pass to Matt Marconi to again get St. Ambrose back within a score at 42-37 with 1:29 to go.

But the on-side kick was recovered by the Spartans, and even though the Bees forced a three-and-out, SAU got the ball back on its own 3-yard line with just 19 seconds left. Romani was intercepted on the second play to end any miraculous comeback hopes.

Romani finished 11-of-27 for 241 yards. Along with the touchdown passes to Ferger and Marconi, Romani threw a three-yard scoring strike to Baylee Hopps back in the first quarter.

O'Conner rushed for 103 yards on 14 attempts, an average of 7.4 yards per carry.

With the Bees trailing 14-3 after allowing a 79-yard touchdown pass just over five minutes into the game, it was a 50-yard run from O'Conner down to the Spartan 1-yard line that gave SAU some life. Three plays later, Romani found Hopps for the score. On Missouri Baptist's ensuing drive, Jake Schramm intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards for a score to give St. Ambrose a 17-14 lead.

Those would be the Bees' final points until the furious fourth quarter. The Spartans took a 21-17 lead two minutes into the second quarter and held on to defeat St. Ambrose for the first time in three matchups.

Rowe scored SAU's first points on a 49-yard field goal following a Mason Flynn fumble recovery in MBU territory early in the first quarter.

Taylor White led the SAU defense with eight tackles. Reed Rollette had seven stops.

The Bees return for their fourth home game of September next Saturday against St. Francis (Ill.). The Homecoming Game will kickoff at 1 p.m. at Brady Street Stadium.