Belen Jesuit arrived in Ireland Monday afternoon - earlier than any other team participating in this year’s American Football Showcase.
Their week touring the sights and experiencing Irish culture created memories that will likely last a lifetime.
But the Wolverines’ performance Friday against Atlanta’s Marist High is probably one they’d like to quickly forget.
Belen Jesuit committed three turnovers and its young defense couldn’t contain Marist’s triple-option offense in a 27-0 shutout loss.
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The Wolverines (0-1) became the first Miami-Dade County team to play a regular season game overseas.
“We threw the ball well at times and put good drives together, but we just didn’t finish them,” Belen coach Rich Stuart said. “We’ll watch film and get things corrected.”
The game was one of three involving teams from Florida, Georgia and New Jersey and will lead up to Saturday’s Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech.
Marist collectively rushed for 180 yards, led by senior quarterback Jack Dinges, who ran for 80 yards on 12 carries. Dinges threw a pair of touchdown passes as well
Twice Belen Jesuit put together solid drives into Marist territory in the first half.
But each time the War Eagles (1-1) kept the Wolverines from scoring as twice senior Drew Geeslin intercepted Belen quarterback Lucas Pola while covering tight end Diego Ortega near the end zone.
Ortega made three nice catches on those drives including a couple of spectacular leaping catches. But Ortega couldn’t snag the ball away from Geeslin on a throw to the end zone from Pola on Belen’s opening drive.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Belen drove 47 yards and reached Marist’s 31-yard line. Pola lobbed another pass to Ortega, but Geeslin got in front of it again and picked it off.
Marist scored first on their second drive when Dinges connected with Dean Johnson for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
Timmy Bleekrode connected on a 37-yard field goal to extend Marist’s lead to 10-0 with 8:13 left in the third.
Another mistake on special teams added to Belen’s issues later in the quarter.
A high snap over the head of punter Javan Rice led to Marist taking over at Belen’s 18-yard line. On the ensuing play, Dinges found John FitzPatrick in the end zone to give Marist a 17-0 lead.
“In the first half we were in range and committed two turnovers,” Stuart said. “Maybe against some other teams you can get away with that, but not against a team like Marist.”
Belen will next plat at Gulliver next Saturday. The Wolverines will attend mass on Sunday and then participate in a demonstration of traditional Irish sports before flying home early Monday morning.