Tigers Fall to Bulldogs 28-21 in Thrilling Home Opener

On Friday, September 4, the Saint Xavier Tigers (2-1) fell to the number one ranked Male Bulldogs (3-0) in a thrilling Tiger home opener by a score of 28-21. In front of a sold out home crowd, the atmosphere was described by multiple students and players as being “electric,” something that’s been missing since a full capacity crowd was last allowed in 2019.   

The Rage Cage turns towards the flag for the National Anthem. (Luke Napier)

Missing 6 defensive starters, the Tigers were tested from the first snap. The Bulldogs came to play in the first half, putting up 21 unanswered points by the midway mark of the second quarter, but the Tigers pressed onward with a 29-yard screen pass from senior QB Jack Sivori to senior WR Mekhi Smith put them on the board.


Even with the momentum seemingly swinging towards the Tigers, the Bulldogs weren’t ready to stop their first-half scoring yet. Western Kentucky commit and Male’s star QB Nick Schutte led the final drive of the half, capping it off with a 36-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds to go, a devastating blow both on the scoreboard (now reading 28 – 7) and for the home crowd.


Though the three score lead put a damper on the home fans’ confidence, nothing was going to slow down the energy coming from the stands, especially from the student section. The Rage Cage was in full effect, with students overflowing into the adjacent sections in one of the best student turnouts in years. From the singing of the national anthem to the incessant cheers, the Cage signified the return of Friday Night Lights, reminding everyone of the excitement that comes with a high school football game. 

The Rage Cage was packed from top to bottom from the moment the Tigers ran onto the field. (Luke Napier)

The Tigers also returned to the field to start the second half looking like a completely different team, holding Male scoreless for the final two quarters of the game. After the game, St. X head coach Kevin Wallace talked with the Courier Journal about the defensive adjustments made during halftime to help slow down the Bulldog offense. 


“Perhaps we put too much fear in our kids about (Male’s) foot speed, and we didn’t challenge the routes when they came to us (in the first half),” Wallace said. 

The Rage Cage prepares for the fourth quarter as the Tigers begin the comeback. (Luke Napier)

Even with the defensive stops in the second half, the Tigers offense still had to do their part, and Jack Sivori led them in a big way. Finishing with 264 yards, including 111 rushing, his 13-yard touchdown connection with Mekhi Smith brought the Tigers within a touchdown with just 3:12 left in the game. 


Once again, the Tigers defense came up with a big fourth down stop to give the ball back to Sivori and the offense with just 1:20 remaining. Driving all the way down to the Male 23-yard line, the offense was rolling, completing passes all over the field. But with 16 seconds remaining, an airtight defensive stand by Male put an end to the final drive on fourth down.

Luke Napier

Though the Tiger’s fell to the Bulldogs in a hard fought battle, the comeback that Sivori mounted as well as the defensive lockdown in the second half was an impressive feat in itself. The Tigers went toe-to-toe with the best in the state. If there ever was such a thing as a moral victory, this is as close as it gets. The Tigers will look to carry their second half momentum into the next game, a tough home battle against Cincinnati powerhouse Elder next Friday.