Some losses hurt more than others, and Millikan’s close loss to Cathedral may as well have been a torture chamber for the Rams. It was a thrilling game with 10 lead changes, but Millikan made too many mistakes down the stretch and the Phantoms made too many big plays, and Millikan came up just a few points short in a 39-38 loss.
The Rams (1-1) will host St. Francis next Friday at 7 p.m.
“That was the story of the night, just trying to dig our way out of a hole,” said Millikan coach Romeo Pellum. “We gave ourselves a lot of different obstacles.”
The game started auspiciously, with Millikan scoring on a Myles Jackson to Angelo Miranda pass to go up 8-0, and then kicker Jayden Icasiano putting them up 11-0 early in the second quarter. But Cathedral answered with a 40-yard touchdown from Aidan Moss to Xavier Jordan, then an interception of Jackson, followed by another Moss-to-Jordan connection to take a 14-11 lead. Within the span of four minutes the Rams went from in control to down by three.
But as would be the theme of the night the Rams responded, as Jackson hit Nygel Osborne for a go-ahead TD to put them up 18-14. Cathedral answered back on their next drive, and ended up scoring on the last play of the half to take a 20-18 lead into the break. The Phantoms were driving again to start the second half until Matt Martinez came up with a big interception in Millikan territory. The Rams quickly scored on a 10-yard run by Jackson to take a 25-20 lead.
They wouldn’t hold that advantage for long, thanks in part due to a costly mistake. Millikan got the Phantoms to fourth down and a missed field goal attempt--but were flagged for roughing the long snapper (in high school the long snapper is not allowed to be contacted). The penalty put the Phantoms on Millikan’s ten yard line, and they scored on their next play, the third TD connection between Moss and Jordan.
The Rams answered back on their next possession, with Jackson finding Jordan Anderson all alone in the end zone to go up 32-27. When Cathedral’s next drive stalled out at midfield early in the fourth quarter, the Rams got the ball back on their own 20 yard line with the ability to take control of the game and increase their lead to two scores.
But the Rams got to midfield and then Ross Nickson picked off Jackson, cutting short Millikan’s ability to take control. Making matters worse, the Phantoms scored three plays later on Moss’ fourth TD pass to Jordan, putting them up 33-32.
Once again, the Rams dug deep, and on their next possession, Jackson hit Martinez for a 28-yard touchdown that saw Martinez break a tackle then shake loose for a 28-yard score. That put the Rams up 38-33, and once again gave them a chance to take control with less than six minutes remaining in the game. Icasiano had a perfectly-placed pooch kick to try for a recovery, but the Rams recovered it without letting it hit the ground first, which is a violation by the kicking team. That gave the ball to Cathedral, and Moss quickly hit Jordan for their fourth connection, making it 39-38 Cathedral with 4:02 left.
Millikan got a great return and then a face mask penalty, giving them first and 10 on the Cathedral 35. But four pass plays all came up empty and Millikan turned it over on downs. Cathedral was able to get two first downs to end the game.
“We’ve got to get back to basics and cut out the distractions, we have to practice better and play better,” said Pellum. “Everything has to get better. We should not have lost that football game.”
There were bright spots for the Rams including the continued strong start to the season for Jackson, who was 20/33 for 299 yards and five total TDs, including four TD passes to four different receivers. The run game looked good with Nygel Osborne and Jaden Hunt combining for 153 yards on just 12 carries.
The Rams will also get Moore League Player of the Year Ryan Pellum back next week after a two-game suspension he served to start this year because of an ejection late in last season.