By Tadi Abedje
On the last game of the regular season, the Gonzaga Eagles fell to their rival, the St. John’s Cadets, on their home turf on Senior Day in a 34-17 blowout. It was the 94th meeting between both teams.
In the opening quarter on the Eagles’ opening drive, they went three-and-out. On the Cadets’ opening possession, running back Ron Cook Jr. ran for a 37-yard touchdown on third-and-one. But Gonzaga blocked the extra point. The Eagles had another three-and-out highlighted by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
The Cadets went on to score on a 46-yard catch-and-run touchdown catch from quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava to Quinten Johnson to go up to 13-0. Gonzaga had a 27-yard double reverse by wide receiver Aaron Turner plus a 15-yard late hit out of bounds infraction.
Unfortunately, St. John’s missed a 29-yard field goal attempt. Later, Gonzaga defensive back Grant Parker intercepted a pass deep in Cadets territory.
In the following quarter, they scored a 37-yard field goal by Marco Kemp to slice the lead to 13-3. Both squads couldn’t convert on third downs. Cadets running back Colby McDonald would have a 28-yard run down the left sideline to Gonzaga’s 31-yard line. They capitalized on a four-yard touchdown run by quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava on a designed keeper to go up 20-3.
Moreover, Ron Cook Jr. had a good punt return for the Cadets to the Eagles 36-yard line. He ran for a 10-yard touchdown to extend St. John’s lead to 27-3. It became worse for Gonzaga as Caleb Williams got sacked which led to a three-and-out. Cadets quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava completed a pass to Rakim Jarrett for 17-yards as Jarrett hurdled over a defender as he went out of bounds. They failed to score any points before intermission.
At the start of the second half, Eagles defensive back Jalen McMurray nearly intercepted off a deflection on St. John’s third-down attempt. Then, Gonzaga would score their first touchdown of the game on a 16-yard run by Malcolm Terry II to cut the deficit to 17 points. Additionally, Gonzaga forced a fumble, and defensive end Joseph Wete recovered it. But the Eagles couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone.
In the fourth quarter, John Marshall caught a pass in the right corner of the end zone from Caleb Williams to make it a 10-point game. Moments later, Maiava threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cam Ross, increasing the score to 34-17. Furthermore, Quarterback Caleb Williams hit tight end Conor Fagan for a 40-yard gain down the field. Unfortunately, they would fail on to convert on fourth-and-long. On their next drive, Gonzaga failed to convert a fourth-and-one at the Cadets’ five-yard line.
“Well, we had some chances to score, and we didn’t convert there. We had a costly turnover, a touchdown pass that was dropped, [and] a fumble on the goal line,” said Eagles head Randy Trivers.
“It’s hard to recover from those things. Those are three or four different opportunities to score down there and we just didn’t. It’s hard to recover against a good team. We’ll try to address those things and we’ll be back next week.”
Next up, Gonzaga and St. John’s will play each other again in the first round of the post-season on Saturday, November 10, at 1:00 p.m. The game will take place at St. John’s.