Two first quarter touchdowns by Nicky Clifton gave Ensworth an early lead that Father Ryan could never overcome Friday night at Ensworth High School. The Tigers (5-2, 2-1 DIIAAA E/M) won 31-14, with Father Ryan (3-4, 0-4 DIIAAA E/M) still in last place and looking for a win in its district.
Clifton, who now has 11 touchdowns on the season and is nearing on 1,000 yards, scored on a 25-yard run with 6:30 in the first, ending the game’s long first draft drive, then, after a quick Father Ryan punt, on a one-yard run with 1:55 left in the quarter.
Jude Maloy then immediately got the Tigers the ball back, recovering as Father Ryan fumbled the kick off. Maloy took it to the 13-yard line, setting Ensworth up inside the Irish red zone like it never left, with just under two minutes left in the first.
The Irish held them to a fourth-and -3 from the Irish six. Going for it, a handoff to Clifton almost ground out the first down but the Irish held, taking over on offense for just the second time of the night with 11:52 left in the second quarter.
Two Jackson Byrd catches to start the drive were called off by penalties, pushing Father Ryan to a third-and -15, when Tanner Antonutti sacked Seamus O’Connell, forcing another Irish punt deep in its own territory with 7:30 left before half. Ensworth was then also forced to punt, and then the Irish did again, with just more than 4 minutes left.
The Tigers then managed to put together a drive, but were forced to attempt a field goal that went wide left.
The Irish took over at their own 29-yard line with less than 2 minutes left in the half and responded with their best drive of the game, a well-executed two minute drill.
It ended when O’Connell hit Grey Erwin on an 18-yard fade as time ran out, making it a one-score game, 14-7, with Father Ryan getting the ball to start the third. It would be Father Ryan’s only score of the game.
A three-and-out and a big Jaylon King punt return gave Ensworth the ball at the Irish 35 with 10:30 in the third.
The Tigers got down to the 2-yard line, when Keyshawn Lawrence fumbled and the Irish came up with it, another big defensive stand keeping the game in reach.
Three runs by Father Ryan and the ball barely moved out past the one. The Irish punted, and again King fielded it, from the 38, only this time he went all the way in. Ensworth went up 21-7 with 5:56 left in the third.
The Irish answered by getting down to a first-and-goal, but another penalty and incomplete passes led to a fourth and goal try from the 7, but O’Connell scrambled right and was sacked. Ensworth took over at their own 16.
The Tigers, rotating in King and Cole Kennon at quarterback all night, put together a drive, that crossed into the final quarter, with strong running from King and Clifton. Inside the Irish 20, Kennon found Tyler Baron on a crossing route in the end zone, to make it a 28-7 lead with 10:43 left in the fourth.
The Irish, who put together a fourth-quarter comeback win against Ravenwood last week, tried to recreate the magic. But their first fourth quarter possession led to a three-and-out.
King, in at quarterback, stuck with the run. Grabbing large chunks on designed runs and options, the Tigers quickly set up a first-and-goal again at the 5-yard line. The Irish managed to hold it to a field goal, but still were down 31-7 with 4:26 left in the game.
A last effort by the Irish led to a late score but had no effect on the outcome.