The final score didn't spoil a memorable afternoon of football at Westminster Christian School in Elgin Saturday.
Playing on campus for the first time as a varsity program, the Warriors recorded numerous firsts in their Northeast Athletic Conference game against Mooseheart. A victory wasn't one of them, however.
Senior-laden Mooseheart took advantage of underclassmen-heavy Westminster Christian by pounding the ball between the tackles. The Ramblers rushed for 295 of their 426 total yards on 36 carries and scored touchdowns on their first 5 possessions to take a 32-0 halftime lead in an eventual 46-17 win.
"They were putting five in the box," Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. "Our rule is if there are five in the box, we're running."
Still, the Warriors came away from the experience feeling good after taking part in an historic event for the school.
"It was awesome with all the fans," said junior quarterback Max Tucker. "Everyone from school came out. I even had some friends come out from my old school before I transferred, Wheaton Academy. To not have to play on an east-west field anymore and to play on a really nice field and compete was great."
Mooseheart senior quarterback Willie Nicholas threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 more, and junior running back Joe Feemorlu rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown to lead the Red Ramblers. The Ramblers (2-0) said the Warriors (0-2) seem to be on the right track regardless of the margin of victory.
"They've got football skills," said Nicholas, who completed 6 of 8 attempts for 129 yards. "It's just that they're a new program so they just have to get some experience under their belt."
"They have a lot of weapons and they're still trying to understand the game," Urwiler said. "Other teams are moving a little bit faster, but that's probably just experience. They have a good nucleus of guys and some good coaches. I think they'll do really well. As the season progresses they'll get a lot better."
Season-long improvement is precisely the plan at Westminster Christian, which next week faces a third consecutive 2012 playoff team in defending NAC champion Ottawa Marquette.
"I think we're going to make it to the playoffs for one reason: whoever we're playing later will be coming against a group of battle-tested kids, kids who have been through every war and back," Westminster coach John Davis said. "We're almost all freshmen and sophomores, and they're doing pretty good."
The Warriors were unable to gain traction in the ground game. Freshman Xavier Brown ran for 43 yards on 8 carries and DeShawn Bloom finished with 13 attempts for 26 yards.
Tucker threw to six different receivers, amassing 225 yards on 17-of-35 passing. His 1-yard scoring throw to William Rathjen was the first home touchdown in Westminster Christian history. Kicker Joe Sanders earlier scored the first home points by booting a 37-yard field goal. Brown concluded the scoring on a 9-yard dash with 17 seconds left.
"I like the fact that our kids don't know any better but to scrap the whole time through," Davis said. "It's good to know that, win or lose, we're going to go down kicking and screaming on every play and every tackle because we have nothing to lose. We're the great underdogs, so we're just going to keep on fighting."