Piedmont football began the year with great expectations after last year’s 12-1 campaign. With two decisive wins to open the season, last Friday night’s 55-9 loss to Moreau Catholic in Hayward came as a shock. Victimized by what coach James Holan described as “an avalanche of mistakes,” the Highlanders trailed 20-0 before the end of the first quarter. When the evening was over, Moreau running back Jullen Ison had scored six touchdowns.
Piedmont’s lone touchdown – a 16-yard pass from Kim to Andrew Meredith – came with less than one minute left in the first half. The PAT kick hit the right upright, part of the Highlanders’ continuing poor luck.
Quarterback Miles Kim had the roughest night of his career, including two first half fumbles and an interception. After sitting out a series in the 2nd quarter, he returned to show great leadership.
Piedmont’s first possession resulted in a bad snap to punter Josh Landheer. Moreau recovered at Piedmont’s 15-yard line and Ison quickly scored his first touchdown on an 8-yard carry. On the next possession, Kim and Gabe Watson missed connections in the backfield, resulting in a fumble deep in their own territory. Two plays later Ison had his second TD.
The Mariners were much quicker and stronger up front; the lack of protection caused a series of hurries and timing mistakes.
The next Highlander possession brought yet another fumble, another Ison TD and a 20-0 deficit with 5:44 left in the first quarter. To make matters worse, Piedmont linebacker Jacob Watson was knocked out of the game and was unable to return. Two more Piedmont players, linemen Mason Willrich and cornerback Willis Bird, also went down in the first half and were lost for the rest of the evening.
At the start of the 2nd quarter linebacker Nick Pacult intercepted a Moreau pass,
but on the first snap from center there was another mishandle and an eight-yard loss. Then came a big sack of Kim, making it 3rd down and 31.
Watson was hammered on the next play, giving the Highlanders an ominous 4th down and 42 situation.
After Piedmont’s punt, Moreau’s Ryan Regner ran a quarterback draw for a 42-yard TD, a play on which Bird was injured.
Despite ineffective blocking, Watson showed great vision, footwork and football instincts. He fielded a 3rd quarter punt and tiptoed down the sideline for a 25-yard return. On defense, defensive back Ellis Everett had a nice pass break up, but one play later Moreau threw a 33-yard touchdown pass. Ison collected his 6th touchdownat the 9:50 mark of the 3rd quarter, and with a 55-6 lead, the “mercy rule” was imposed, meaning the clock ran without interruption for the remainder of the game, expect for timeouts.
With the game out of hand, Watson came out and Frank Kossak replaced him as running back for the last drive. Kim returned with bloody elbows to lead a drive that featured Kossak’s gains of 14 and 39 yards. But the drive stalled, and the Highlanders settled for a 30-yard field goal by Landheer for the final score, one minute from the end of the game.
“We talked about putting Frank in at running back, and gave him some reps this week. Gabe needs a break from time to time and Frank is a really good player. But I have to do a better job of feeding our best player,” said Holan.
Kossak was the leading rusher with 61 yards on 6 carries. Watson was held to 21 yards on 11 carries, his least productive outing in two seasons. Kim battled gamely all evening, and finished with 3 completions on 14 pass attempts for 31 yards, one touchdown and his first interception of the season.
After the game, Holan praised Andrew Meredith: “This guy will do anything for you. You need to follow his example. He was there all night on offense, defense and special teams, and he’s still helping bring the water from the locker room at halftime.
“Everybody needs to contribute like that,” he admonished. Holan’s final assessment was, “We weren’t ourselves. We didn’t play Piedmont football, but I have faith in these kids; I’m not going to panic and change a bunch of things.”
Piedmont (2-1) returns to Witter field this Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m. to face former BSAL rival Salesian. The JV game starts at 4 p.m.