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New Life Academy football: Opportunity slips away in Eagles’ third-straight loss

New Life Academy’s losing streak against Providence Academy continued on Friday as three fourth-quarter turnovers sealed a 28-9 loss.

“We’ve just got to work on holding on to the ball,” senior lineman Blake Anders said.

Turnovers sapped the Eagles (0-3, 0-3 Tri-Metro) for a third week in a row as they had chances to steal a win on the road in the fourth quarter. They drove the ball close to the red zone, trailing 21-7, by the end of the third quarter. The drive ended right away in the fourth quarter with a turnover on downs.

“We couldn’t get a push on offense,” Anders said.

Fortunes turned again in favor for the Eagles again as the Lions (2-1, 2-1 Tri-Metro) fumbled the ball at midfield on a long pass play. Andres recovered that fumble, which set up a flee-flicker from junior quarterback Seth Rice to junior wide receiver Ty Frazier inside the 10-yard line. A roughing the passer penalty on that play put the ball at the five.

Rice and company could not capitalize as his pass on third down landed in the hands of Lions junior linebacker Ryan Richelsen. The Lions then marched it to the Eagles’ 40 and ran four minutes off the clock before punting it away. It turned further south as Lions freshman safety Jackson Baird picked off Rice and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.

The Eagles continued to struggle offensively on their next drive as another Rice pass went to a Lion. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense had kept their team in striking distance for most of the game.

“Our defense did some good things, except we gave them that big pass before the half,” Eagles coach Paul Mork said.

The two teams played to a scoreless tie for most of the first half until Lions sophomore quarterback Henry Van Dellen found senior wide receiver Ben Ratliff for a 79-yard touchdown. The two connected twice again in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 21-7.

Eagles junior wide receiver Caleb Deiss mustered the only score of the night for the visitors on a touchdown pass from Rice during the third quarter. Missed assignments on blocking, mistakes and blitzing by the Lions cost the Eagles in their scoreless first half.

“Our blocking was all discombobulated,” Mork said.

The Eagles lost for the seventh-straight year to the Lions, a match up that goes back to their Minnesota Christian Athletic Association days. At 0-3, the Eagles will look to turn things around at Concordia Academy (1-2, 1-2 Tri-Metro) next Friday.

-Matthew Davis