Complimentary football enables Raiders to earn first victory by shutting out Hawks in second half


Quincy Notre Dame left tackle Jackson Meyer, left, and fullback Daniel Dyer celebrate after the Raiders scored their first touchdown in Saturday's 20-6 victory over Lift for Life Academy at Advance Physical Therapy Field. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The situation was less than ideal. The response to it was more than fitting.

Now, the Quincy Notre Dame football players can exhale and breathe a little easier.

A dominant defensive effort Saturday in which the Raiders forced three turnovers and blocked a punt propelled QND to a 20-6 victory over state-ranked Lift for Life Academy at Advance Physical Therapy Field. The three-game winless stretch to start the season is over, and there’s an uptick in confidence.

“When you start off 0-3 — nobody wants to start off 0-3 — it becomes a big reality check,” QND senior center Ben Schwartz said. “Good teams step up and figure out a way to progress forward. I think that’s what we did this week.”

The Raiders also figured out how to play with a lead, work the clock and dictate tempo — all things that come with winning.

“We’ve been building and building these last three weeks, and today to finally put it together, it means a lot,” QND coach Jack Cornell said. “Our guys have earned it. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to make corrections, and we’re going to move on. But I’m proud of the way our guys came together and played.”

It took critical plays on both sides of the ball to make that happen.

Sophomore defensive back Gavin Doellman intercepted two Lift for Life passes in the first quarter, returning both into Hawks’ territory. The second set up the Raiders’ first touchdown as Aiden Klauser hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Noah Lunt on fourth and 16 with 11:05 to go in the second quarter. Cole Schuckman’s extra point made it 7-0.

“I think it was a big momentum change,” Lunt said. “That was the first time leading in a ballgame all year. With the momentum we had after that first touchdown, we just really got going.”

Another takeaway — QND’s Jace Allensworth recovered a fumble at the Lift for Life 34-yard line — set up another score.

This time, Klauser took a short pass from Lunt in the right flat, beat the defender to the edge and dove into the front corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score and a 13-0 lead with 4:25 remaining in the first half.

“I’ve played football with him since fifth grade,” Lunt said of Klauser. “I’ve always had a connection with him.”

More importantly, the Raiders turned a takeaway into points.

“Once the defense shows up, it’s on us to do something with it,” QND senior left tackle Jackson Meyer said. “They give us great field position, and then it’s our turn to go put it in for them. When they’re working hard, we have to show up for them.”

It’s a point of emphasis from the coaching staff.

“Those are hidden points,” Cornell said. “For us to score off those turnovers was big. To turn those into points was huge. We have to continue to find ways to get the ball back and march it down and score on offense. That’s complimentary football. That’s how we want to play.”

The Hawks, who were ranked fifth in the Missouri Class 2 state poll following a 3-0 start to the season, scored with 16 seconds remaining in the first half on a Noah Ridgel touchdown reception and trimmed the deficit to 13-6.

A stout defensive effort, led by junior linebacker Taylin Scott, made sure it was as close as the Hawks would get.

Lift for Life turned the ball over on downs four times in the second half, managed less than 75 yards of total offense over the final 24 minutes and saw Scott rack up 21 total tackles.

“We’ve been preaching all week about being coachable and doing the things we’re coached to do,” Cornell said. “I think we can still get better at that, but they certainly showed the team they’re capable of being today.”

Lunt’s 1-yard touchdown plunge late in the third quarter put QND ahead 20-6. The defense did the rest.

“It’s good to finally flip the script and get going,” Schwartz said.

The Raiders travel to Ashland, Mo., next Friday to face Southern Boone (3-1), which has won three straight following a season-opening 56-46 loss to Odessa, Mo., and they hit the road with renewed confidence after picking up victory No. 1.

“Time to go get two, three, four, five and six,” Schwartz said. “Get as many as we can.”

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