Musketeers Fall to Crusaders in Thrilling Nail-Bitter

The Red Bud Musketeers ended their football season with a loss Saturday in Belleville with a loss to the Althoff Crusaders. The game began with the Musketeers receiving the opening kick and gaining a first down before being stopped by the Crusaders’ defense resulting in a Red Bud punt. Althoff also started out moving the ball against the Red Bud defense but turned the ball over in their own territory giving Red Bud an opportunity to jump out to an early lead. The Musketeers were unable to push the ball in when a third and long pass fell to the ground in the end zone and forced Red Bud to punt. This was the pattern for much of the first quarter as each team looked for a weakness in their opponent to exploit; the quarter ended in a scoreless tie.

During the second quarter, the defensive battle continued. The Musketeers were able to stop the Crusaders, each team playing for field position when Red Bud was forced into a fourth and long punting situation near their own 20-yard line. On the play, the snap sailed over punter Lane Brockmeyer’s head and was recovered by Althoff in the end zone for a Crusader touchdown making the score 7-0. The Musketeer defense continued to remain tough, not yielding a touchdown for the rest of the half but did allow a 23-yard field goal near the end of the half to take a 10-0 lead into the break. The Musketeers also lost starting quarterback and catalyst Thomas Friess, who was sacked multiple times, to a hand injury.

In the third quarter, the defenses again dominated. Sophomore Dylan Oliver replaced Friess at quarterback for Red Bud and the Musketeers relied on their ground game that was so dominant during the regular season. Althoff was ready for the challenge, stifling the running backs and controlling the line of scrimmage. The Crusaders were held to a 31-yard field goal near the halfway point of the third quarter to extend the lead to 13-0.

It was a defensive battle all afternoon. Althoff needed to control the ball and work the clock to ensure a win but in an attempt to increase their lead tried a pass in their own territory. Bad idea. The pass was intercepted and returned 55 yards for a touchdown by Sam Easter, finally getting the Musketeers on the board. Lane Brockmeyer was good for the PAT and the Musketeers had a spark to work with. On the Crusaders’ next possession, Red Bud took the lead on another defensive touchdown. With Althoff pinned deep in their own territory, the Crusader quarterback dropped back to pass and tried to force the ball in the middle. The play was read by Sophomore Standout Lucas Schwartzkopf who intercepted the pass at the 22-yard line and took it in for the touchdown. Brockmeyer’s PAT gave Red Bud a 14-13 lead with just over five minutes remaining. Althoff would have an opportunity to regain the lead and Red Bud forced the Crusaders into a third and sixteen at the Red Bud 28-yard line when the Althoff quarterback found a receiver open on the sideline, broke a couple of tackles, and scored the go-ahead touchdown. The Crusaders went for the two-point conversion but missed making the score 19-14 with about three minutes to play.     

The Crusaders kicked to Red Bud sophomore return man Gavin Baldwin who brought the ball out to the 40-yard line but the Musketeer offense was unable to move the ball and turned it over on downs. The Red Bud defense held the Crusaders and took over on downs at their own 21 with about a minute remaining. Red Bud had an open receiver on the sideline but a Crusaders’ defensive back stepped in front of the pass and returned it for a TD to seal the Althoff win 26-14.

It was a tough loss for the Musketeers and not the way they wanted it to end. You can’t help but be proud of the Boys. This loss was the end of a thrilling season, although bitter the team showed a lot of heart. They never quit attitude along with the talent and hard work they put in makes us all proud. Great season Boys! Continued success during Basketball season. We look forward to seeing you next year.