Hightstown High School Coach Pete Brescia liked the way his football team kept fighting and coming from behind in what ended up being a 46-38 loss to Steinert on Homecoming night on Friday.
What had the Hightstown coach confused, however, is why his team was down by so much in the first place.
"(Steinert) didn't do anything that we weren't preparing for all week," Brescia said of his team, now 2-3 on the season. "I'm going to have to go back and watch the tape and see if I can figure it out. It just appears the difference in the game was we wanted it, and they played like they needed this game."
Steinert got off to a great start, building its advantage to 29-10 early in the third quarter.
The lead could have been even higher for Steinert, but Hightstown's Andrew Daniels intercepted a pass and returned the ball 55 yards for a score in the first quarter.
Hightstown also managed to put together a quick drive in the final minute of the half, resulting in a 21-yard field goal by Danny Bocanumenth with just 7.9 seconds to go before intermission.
Hightstown started its comeback, helped by a fumble recovery by Joey Radley. This set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Erik Headley.
"Our guys never quit," Brescia said. "We played hard. We hung in there. We just had a rough night on defense."
As a result, Steinert scored the next 10 points and appeared to have the game put away with a 39-17 lead with 6:43 to play.
That was when the king took over the field.
Kevin Lenart, who was named Hightstown High's Homecoming King at halftime (Nicole Kerr was the Queen), got the Rams back in the game with a pair of long kickoff returns and a touchdown catch.
The first kickoff return helped put the ball near midfield. A long pass from Dustin Kollman to Max Kutler then took the ball to the three. Kutler would eventually score on a 1-yard run.
Hightstown followed with an onsides kick recovery by Daniels, which helped set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kollman to Lenart.
This score cut the deficit to 39-31 with 5:02 to play.
Once again, Steinert scored, building its lead to 46-31 with just 2:17 to play. Yet, once again, Lenart and Hightstown responded.
Lenart returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, Steinert recovered the onsides kick attempt after the score. Steinert was then able to run out the clock and hold on for the win.
"For me to stand here and say we ever got the momentum in this game would be untrue," Brescia said. "We never gave up and slowed them down enough to settle in and start playing our game. We just never could quite catch them."