St. Anthony's came out of halftime inspired, but its comeback fell short at Stepinac in a CHSFL football game between two undefeated teams.
The Friars lost 49-32 after cutting a 28-9 halftime deficit to three late in the third quarter.
"I'm really happy with the way we responded in the second half," St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert said. "We made it a game."
After receiving the opening kick of the second half, the Friars went on a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive that ended with Tom Walsh hitting James Pryor II for a 10-yard touchdown to cut the gap to 28-15 with 8:41 left in the third. Walsh clicked with Nick Watts on that drive, connecting five times for 46 yards.
That duo would link up 10 times for 133 yards in the half after connecting once for 2 yards in the first.
"I thought sometimes I missed him in the first half," Walsh said. "We came out with a different mentality and we just had to get on the same page."
The Friars (5-1) forced a turnover on downs on fourth-and-goal from the 26-yard line to get the ball back with 6:23 left in the third. Three plays later, Jordan Williams broke free off the right edge and ran 71 yards for a touchdown, extending his arm to cross the plane as he got wrapped up at the 2-yard line. St. Anthony's trailed 28-22.
Stepinac (6-0) went three-and-out and Williams (10 carries, 132 yards) ran 47 yards on the second play of St. Anthony's ensuing drive to bring the Friars into the red zone. But Stepinac held on and Claudio Robiglio kicked his second field goal, this one from 23 yards out.
"I really think settling for the field goal hurt us," Reichert said.
The Friars missed a field goal in the fourth quarter that would have cut the deficit to 35-28 and Stepinac rattled off two touchdowns in a span of 1:41 to take a 49-32 lead with two minutes left.
Walsh, who ran for two scores, completed 31 of 48 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions in the first half, including a pick-six.
"The mistakes we made, they're all correctable," Walsh said. "We all know that they're going to come out with fire the next time we verse them. We've just got to not make as many mistakes and play harder in the first half."