The Notre Dame football team put itself in position to earn Rico Brogna's first varsity football win in innumerable ways on Thursday against Stratford.

But in the end, youth and exhaustion served as the kryptonite again.

The Lancers held a 38-34 advantage with 50 seconds left in the game, yet the Red Devils converted a fourth-and-15 and then a 23-yard touchdown pass to take a 41-38 win at McCarty Stadium on Thursday.

"It definitely hurts," Brogna said. "If you play enough games and you're in it like this...we can build on it and get better."

Lancers' all-everything running back and defensive back Nigel Beckford scored three touchdowns, and Daquan Coleman threw two touchdowns, including one to freshman Glody Tumba with 1:22 left in the game to put ND ahead 38-34.

But the Red Devils sophomore quarterback Michael Cannata converted fourth-and 15 to Jailen Johnson to keep Stratford alive, and the next play found Asia Bolling on a controversial touchdown in the back of the end zone to put the Red Devils on top 41-34.

"Lot of credit goes to (Cannata)," Brogna said. "He put a lot of balls right on the money."

The Lancers had a final chance to win the game, when the Lancers reached the Stratford 47-yard line, but Coleman could not hold the snap and Stratford recovered.

"We haven't been in a lot of two minute spots, even at the end of half," Brogna said. "Things were moving fast for a lot of players there."

Brogna focused on the positive aspect of learning from a competitive contest. ND had been outscored in its previous three games 144-34.

"We've really gotten better every week," Brogna said. "This will teach them more than any practice: that the game never ends until the final whistle."

Despite leading 30-14 in the first half, the Red Devils battled back keyed by Lancers turnovers. ND snapped the ball over its punter's head and the Red Devils scored on the next play from seven yards out to cut the Lancers' advantage to 30-20.

A three-and-out and then a reverse for a touchdown made the game 30-27. After another three-and-out, the Red Devils took the ball 47 yards to take the lead 34-30 with 6:13 to play.

But ND went down the field on the subsequent drive, going 64 yards in five minutes. Coleman was 3 for 3 on the drive, including the 21 yard touchdown to Tumba with 1:22 to play.

"That drive right there shows how much character our team has," Brogna said. "It was an unbelievable drive."

The Lancers' task gets no easier as they must travel to Monroe to play CSWA's No. 2 team Masuk on Friday night at 7 p.m.

"We have to turn our attention to one of the best programs in the state," Brogna said. "We have a lot of respect for Masuk."