MORAVIA — Two games into their season, the Blue Devils are still learning how to finish off plays, finish off drives and finish off games.
Moravia football allowed two touchdowns in the final quarter and change to fall to Elmira Notre Dame, 29-28, Saturday at Millard Fillmore Elementary School in Moravia.
With the team trailing by a point in the final minutes, the Blue Devils offense had two cracks at taking the late lead for a potential win — one drive stalled near the red zone, while the other was set back to fourth-and-long after multiple false start penalties.
"A lot of it is on us. We had some issues that we've got to take care off. We had to adjust to that and took some time to do that," Moravia coach Fred Ott said. "I just think we need to learn how to finish. It happened to us last week at Lansing. ...We have good momentum but we're just not finishing. We've got to figure out how to do that as a team."
Joe Shoemaker finished with 123 rushing yards on 19 carries with a touchdown, while Nate Williams (13 carries, 80 yards) and Jake Langtry (five carries, 27 yards) also scored rushing touchdowns. Shoemaker added a receiving touchdown.
Moravia quarterback Kaleb Stayton was 4-for-13 with 34 yards and a touchdown.
Elmira Notre Dame opened the scoring in the opening four minutes to take an early 7-0 lead, but the Blue Devils answered on Stayton's 16-yard touchdown pass to Shoemaker with 2:23 left in the first quarter. Moravia took its first lead of the game 4:34 before halftime as a sustained drive was capped off by Williams' touchdown plunge from inside the one-yard line.
The Crusaders responded with a scoring drive with 7:35 left in the third quarter to cut the Blue Devils' lead to 14-13, but Moravia answered with the next two trips to the end zone — a six-yard rush from Langtry and a 17-yard rumble from Shoemaker that immediately followed an Elmira Notre Dame fumble — to go ahead 28-13.
But Moravia couldn't muster any more offense after that. The Crusaders scored to end the third quarter, then surprised the Blue Devils with a successful onside kick, then scored again to jump in front 29-28.
"We knew that was coming and we had it set, but for whatever reason one of my kids ran right by the ball and decided to block instead of jumping on the ball," Ott said. "We did think they were going to do stuff like that. (Crusaders coach Mike D'Aloisio) has been coaching a long time so we knew he was going to throw a lot at us. We were prepared for it but we just didn't execute."
Moravia had its chances in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get out of its own way on offense after the defense forced a quick three-and-out with three minutes to go. After a short gain on first down, the Blue Devils were called for a false start on second down and again on fourth down at midfield. On fourth-and-18, Moravia was forced to run the ball in hopes of another quick defensive possession. Instead, the Crusaders converted a first down to run out the clock.
The Blue Devils (0-2) are home again next Saturday against Groton, where Ott hopes his unit can right the ship.
"We just need to keep focused throughout the whole game," Ott said. "Just do the things we know how to do and do it a little better. We'll work a little harder and practice and be prepared for next week."