BELLEVILLE — If the hole they dug for themselves in the first half hadn't been so cavernous, the Lindenwood-Belleville Lynx might have climbed out.
The Lynx fell behind 27-0 in the first half as they lost to the St. Francis Saints 41-28 on Saturday in Lindenwood Stadium.
"We shot ourselves in the foot early in the game, and against a good football team, turnovers and penalties are going to kill you,'' Lynx coach Jeff Fisher said. "I think that's what happened. We operated as a young football team in the first half. I think this team grew up in the second half, but we have a lot more work to do.''
The Lynx trailed 34--0 early in the second half before mounting a furious rally.
Lindenwood-Belleville drove to the St. Francis 6 before an interception by the Saints' Jesse Grove ended its comeback bid.
"I'd like to say that we just ran out of time, but at the end of the day, if we don't put ourselves in that hole, it's a different deal,'' Fisher said.
The Lynx (2-1) committed six turnovers that led to 23 points for the Saints (2-0).
"That's the tale of the tape,'' Fisher said. "You won't beat bad football teams that way, you certainly won't beat good football teams that way.
"And, they're a good football team. That quarterback is exactly what is advertised.''
St. Francis quarterback E.J. White completed 27 of 38 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted four times. White also had 12 carries for 72 yards.
Lynx quarterback Kerry Gibson completed 22 of 39 psasses for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted three times.
Running back Kameron Harris, a gradute of Althoff High School, had 18 carries for 64 yards for Lindenwood-Belleville.
The Saints received the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 14 plays.
Quest Young ran 3 yards for the touchdown to cap the drive. A two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
Harris ran for 28 yards on Lindenwood-Belleville's first play from scrimmage, but the Lynx committed turnovers on their next two plays.
A fumble on handoff from Gibson to Harris was picked up by St. Francis' Mike Passo and returned 10 yards for a touchdown.
Gibson was intercepted by Derrick Caldwell, and two plays later, White threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Greenwell.
The Saints led 20-0 with 8:17 left in the first quarter.
"Momentum isn't anything more than a word, but when you're 18- or 19-year-old men, then maybe it's a little more than a word,'' Fisher said of falling behind by so much so quickly.
White threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Sheldon McGee as the Saints padded their lead to 27-0 with 7:44 left in the first half.
It looked like St. Francis had put the game out of reach when Sheldon McGee ran 14 yards for a touchdown with 11:44 remaining in the second half.
The Lynx finally got on the scoreboard on a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown by Trey Parker.
Lindenwod-Belleville trimmed its deficit to 34-14 on a 4-yard keeper by Gibson.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Malik Norman pushed the Saints' advantage up to 41-14 with 4:59 to go.
An acrobatic one-handed catch as he was falling out of bounds at the St. Francis 1 by Evan McFadden set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Gibson to McFadden with 4:59 on the clock.
White fumbled and the Lindenwood-Belleville's Adrian Williams recovered the ball at the St. Francis 41 with 3:44 on the clock.
Gibson threw a 14-yard pass to Dylan Bradley, drawing the Lynx within 41-28 with 2:59 remaining.
Lindenwood-Belleville got the ball back with 1:58 to go, but it couldn't get in the end zone.
The Lynx were penalized nine times for 102 yards. The Saints were flagged 12 times for 128 yards.
"The turnovers are a fixable thing,'' Fisher said. "That's something you can rep in practice and you can get fixed.
"The unsportsmanlike penalties and the things of that nature, that's not acceptable. That's not what we are about, and if we have to make changes with personnel to get where we are a team, that's what we are going to do.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.(*27*)