TOLEDO – Approximately 7,500 hundred enthusiastic football fans sat in the cool autumn air to watch Toledo Central Catholic and Toledo St. Francis play their typical close game and all 7,500 were treated to an exciting contest.
Until Central’s Mike Krieg intercepted a down field pass from St. Francis quarterback Maks Babuder with only 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter the outcome was uncertain but Krieg’s interception sealed an Irish 20-14 victory.
“This was a big game for us, a must win. We were very fortunate to hold on for the victory,” said Central coach Greg Dempsey.
The difference in the game was the inability of St. Francis to establish a passing game. Knight quarterback, Maks Babuder, hung tough and battled to the end but managed to complete only 2 of 13 pass attempts and, more importantly, was intercepted on four separate occasions. Oddly, most of Babuder’s pass attempts were of the 10 to 20 yard variety as the Knights elected not to try and move the ball with passes of a more conservative nature.
The Irish opened the scoring on their second possession of the game. Irish senior Greg Hammond capped a 64 yard drive by sprinting around the right end of the Knight defense on a pitch from quarterback Tyler Kleeberger. The Knights, however, came right back and drove the ball 72 yards on 15 running plays to tie the game at 7-7. Knight signal caller Maks Babuder finished the drive by pushing threw the center of the Irish defense from the one yard line.
The next two scores were both by the Irish and it appeared that the Irish were going to cruise to a victory but the pesky Knights refused to go away. With only 2:41 remaining in the game, Knight running back Gary Michalski, who had carried the bulk of the St. Francis offense all night, topped off his fine performance by carrying the ball the final 18 yards to pull his team within one touchdown at 20-14.
On the subsequent Irish possession the St. Francis defense came up big and forced a Central punt that allowed the Knights one more chance at winning the game. The anemic Knight passing game, however, failed them once again and, following Krieg’s interception, the Knights had to watch helplessly as the Irish killed the clock.
Central’s win improves their record to 7-1 and virtually ensures them a state playoff position and their 4-1 record also keeps them in the battle for the Toledo City League title. Meanwhile, St. Francis falls to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the City League and has seen its state playoff hopes extinguished.