The Quincy University football team's first trip to the red zone Saturday night produced a touchdown.
It produced a little bit a worry, too.
On a first down play from the William Jewell 24-yard line, senior tailback Chris Harris ended up face down at the 19-yard line after a 5-yard inside run. After the pile of players cleared, Harris stayed down. He finally rolled over and was helped off the field by a trainer.
He never returned.
Harris aggravated an injury in his left knee that has plagued him throughout his career. He briefly looked ready to return later in the drive, but the QU coaching staff elected to keep freshman tailback Dylan Rosado in the game. Rosado scored on a 1-yard run to help the Hawks tie the game at 7 with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter.
The Hawks ended up losing 45-28, and Harris' status moving forward in uncertain. He never returned and limped out of QU Stadium after carrying the ball just five times for 22 yards.
"It's been bothering him here and there, but it bothered him there," QU interim head coach Gary Bass said. "We tried to bring him out for the second half and see if he'd be able to run the football and do some things. He just wasn't up to full speed."
At that point, Bass decided to rest would be best.
"He's a kid who has five games left in his college career," Bass said. "For us, it made much more sense to shelve him."
Harris, a Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin prospect, has 478 yards and six touchdowns in six games. For his career, Harris has 2,490 yards rushing, which is fourth all-time. He needs 212 yards to pass Corey Williams for third place on the career list.
Rosado finished with 94 yards on 15 carries, while sophomore Dominique Bobo had 56 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
Different set of circumstances
In the Hawks' first two losses of the season, they trailed start to finish and were able to regroup quite quickly.
Losing a second-half lead creates a unique challenge some of the Hawks have never had to endure.
"It's definitely a learning experience," senior linebacker Nate Rueckemann said. "Now that we've been in the situations we were put in, we know how we should respond. We can go back, look at the film and understand that we didn't play Quincy football today. We know what we're capable of. We know we shouldn't make this many mistakes, shouldn't lose our composure and shouldn't start blaming outside things.
"We were letting too many outside things bother us for what we're trying to do on the field."
Avoiding distractions over the next week is critical.
The Hawks, who play four of their final five games on the road, start that stretch with a trip to No. 7 Indianapolis next Saturday.
"What I do is keep my mouth shut, not complain about anything and go back, see what we did wrong and look forward to the next week," senior wide receiver Kody Wood said. "Don't dwell on this game. We have a great team coming up next week. This one is in the past. Obviously, we'll look at it and learn from the mistakes. Then it's on to UIndy."
Learning to finish
Since the day he took over, Bass and his staff have preached about the need to finish stronger.
So under no circumstances was he going to give up until the final second ticked away.
The Hawks, down 17 points when they started their final drive with 2:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, moved the ball to the William Jewell 9-yard line in the waning seconds. Bass called his three remaining timeouts with 15, seven and one seconds remaining in order to give the Hawks a chance to reach the end zone. It didn't happen as quarterback Andrew Rund was sacked on the final play.
However, the message runs deeper than just trying to tack on a touchdown.
"If I'm going to tell our kids to finish, you better believe I'm going to call every timeout I have and we're going to try to score every second we possibly can," Bass said. "I can't look at our team and tell them to finish if I'm not going to use everything at my disposal as a head coach to try to score.
"If you want to preach finish to these kids and they sit here and watch me let the clock run out, they're going to have a problem, and they should."
Streak ends for Rund
Sophomore quarterback Andrew Rund didn't throw an interception the first five games and carried a streak of 96 pass attempts without an interception into Saturday's game. That streak reached 105 consecutive passes before coming to an abrupt end.
William Jewell defensive back Thaddeus Glenn intercepted a Rund pass with six minutes remaining in the second quarter. Although Glenn returned it 17 yards to the QU 35-yard line, the Hawks held strong on defense and forced a field goal attempt from 29 yards that the Cardinals' Dalton Dye hit wide right.