MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - In a contrast of styles with one team that typically throws the ball (Sacred Heart Cathedral) and one that prefers to run the ball (St. Francis), the No. 2 Lancers dabbled in a bit of each in their 47-15 victory over the visiting 19th ranked Fightin' Irish in a WCAL matchup Friday night.
In terms of yardage, the stats at the half were quite surprising. St. Francis passed for 66 yards and ran for 174 yards for a total of 240 yards. Sacred Heart Cathedral passed for 241 yards and lost 1 yard on the run, for a matching 240 yards. However, the yardage was not indicative of the score as the Lancers held a comfortable 38-10 lead at the break.
With two seconds remaining in the first half, Sacred Heart Cathedral looked to top off a last-minute drive with a touchdown to bring the score to 38-17. The Fightin' Irish had just scored their first touchdown of the game three minutes prior, with quarterback Bill Hyers connecting with receiver Amin Oglesby on a strike down the midfield for a 78-yard completion at 3:23. With the ball on the SF 8, SHC opted to pass once again, but St. Francis defensive back Evan Williams snagged the ball at the goal line to bring the half to a close.
Williams's interception was the third turnover of the quarter for SHC, as offensive linemen Dante Giusti and Junior Fehoko forced a fumble at the SHC 18 at 7:23, and defensive back Christopher Senteno hauled in an errant pass in SHC territory at 5:56.
“We gotta give it up to our O-line, they strove for greatness, and they definitely brought the fire this week,” said Williams. “We knew they were a passing team from the get-go, our secondary really focused on studying them the whole week, and tonight we had a couple picks and just got the job done all-around.”
“We just knew what we have in front us,” added defensive back Malik Johnson. “They only run about 20 percent of the time, so our line just brought their hard hats and went to work.”
The game began uncharacteristically for the Lancer offense. The defensive line forced a three-and-out and a high punt resulted in the Lancers taking over at the SHC 35.
A pass to senior Lucas Andrighetto brought the Lancers within the SHC 20, and St. Francis had all but stamped its opening drive with a touchdown when a stand by the Fightin' Irish defensive linebackers Zachary Lealao, Uriah Ulia, Josh Cervantes, and Kelekolio Mateo brought the Lancers to a halt. On fourth down and seven, St. Francis was forced to settle for a field goal with 9:06 remaining in the quarter.
“To be honest, we really have a lot to work on, we need to be more organized,” said St. Francis guard Longahulu Ahoia. “On offense, we shouldn't have taken plays off, but we did and it cost us.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral responded immediately, with wide receiver Anthony Heard taking the ball into Lancer territory at 8:15. A series of short passes to Ronan Orford, Anthony Heard, Aréon Mitchell, and Herbert Boston brought the Fightin' Irish into the red zone. However, at this point, pressure put on by Tyler Manoa and the St. Francis line as well as coverage by juniors Nick Juran and Justin Sinclair forced a stalled run and two incomplete passes in a row. SHC ended its drive in a field goal, tying the game at 3-3 with 6:50 remaining in the quarter.
“We just did what we do well, we just executed our normal game plan and played hard, just we didn't always execute,” said SHC head coach Barry McLaughlin. “We're confident in what we do, we knew things would be there, but whether it was protection breakdown or the route was covered or if [St. Francis's] front forced the quarterback to rush a throw, we're just gonna keep attacking everyone and see where it ends up.”
On the following possession, however, running back Darrell Page sprinted down the center of the field for a 75-yard touchdown run at 6:01. Runs for Page (14 carries, 153 yards, 2 TDs at the half) and Nick Robinson (2-21, 1 TD) broke the game open for the Lancers, and favorable field position due to turnovers or short punts brought them into the end zone with frequency throughout the half. Quarterback Reed Vettel aimed for efficiency with a modest 5 completions on 6 attempts and two touchdown passes: an 8-yard toss to Williams at 11:49 of the second quarter, and an 18-yard pass to junior Michael Leahy at 4:16.
Sacred Heart Cathedral quarterback Will Irons (19-36, 241 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs in the first half) found a couple glimmers of hope with a 26-yard pass to Mitchell at 5:47 of the first quarter and deep throws to Aaron Young and Amin Oglesby during their final drive of the half, but neither drive resulted in any points, and the lack of pass completions and ball protection ultimately were the key factor in determining the end result.
Both teams played their main quarterbacks through the end of the contest. Nick Robinson tacked on his second touchdown on the night with a 1-yard run at 11:56 of the fourth quarter, and Anthony Heard added a rushing touchdown of his own on a 4-yard run at 7:40.
Saint Francis (3-2, 1-1 WCAL) will travel to San Francisco to face Saint Ignatius for a matinee match-up on Saturday, October 7 at 2:00 P.M. Sacred Heart Cathedral (4-1, 1-1) will return to the South Bay to face Valley Christian on Friday, October 6 at 7:00 pm.