SAINT HELENA, Calif - St. Helena’s offense was too much for St Vincent de Paul-Petaluma to overcome as the Saints moved on to the North Coast Section Division 7 semifinals with a 44-22 win, where they will either travel to Salesian or host Stellar Prep.
Both coaches agreed that the turning point in the game was St. Helena sophomore Ivan Robledo’s interception just 32 seconds into the second half, with St Vincent inside St Helena territory trailing by seven. To make matters worse for St Vincent, Robledo then took off for a 93-yard touchdown run to push St Helena’s lead to 28-15 just 42 seconds later.
“That was demoralizing. They (St Vincent) were about to score and for Ivan to come up with a play like that, and then to run 93 yards for a touchdown was huge,” said St. Helena head coach Brandon Farrell.
“That sequence was big. It was definitely a change of course in the game,” said St. Vincent head coach Trent Herzog.
The game started out slowly scoring-wise, as both teams traded possessions for a while until St Helena broke through. Cody Ditomaso was able to bust loose for a nine-yard touchdown run, and then handled two -point conversion duties himself to get the Saints on the board, 8-0, nearing the end of the first quarter. Then came a sequence of scoring which would have been difficult for anyone to follow.
Robledo began his big night with a 10-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, and the Saints led 16-0 after the conversion. 12 seconds later, St Vincent quarterback Jacob Porteous found Dante Antonini for a 54-yard touchdown completion. Porteous then found Rory Morgan in the end zone for the two point conversion to cut the lead in half. 16 seconds after that, however, Robledo broke loose again, this time for 48 yards to extend the lead back out to 14 at 22-8.
“We had to keep feeding him the ball. It was a matter of time before he broke loose a few times. Our offensive line did a great job of getting off the ball much faster compared to our first few drives,” Farrell said.
St Vincent made it interesting when Kai Hall got the ball on four consecutive plays, and then eventually found the end zone with a 22-yard scamper to cut the deficit back to seven heading into the half.
Robledo completed his scoring night with his fourth touchdown of the game, a 67-yard run with 5:53 to go in the third to make it a three score lead for the Saints at 36-15. Robledo would eventually finish the night with 323 yards on the ground to go with the four scores, his second game this season with over 300 yards rushing and the sixth time this season he topped the 200-yard mark.
St Vincent didn’t go away, however, as Antonini had his second touchdown reception of the game, a 22-yard catch to cut the deficit back to 14 points with two minutes to go in the third.
St Helena was then methodical offensively in the fourth quarter. With nine minutes on the clock, the Saints marched down the field, getting short chunks of yards, and using every bit of the play clock before snapping the ball. Farrell used all three timeouts on the drive as the play clock was winding down. Seven minutes later on fourth-and-five, Daniel Martinez found George Cutting for a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the final nail in the coffin.
St Helena moves to 9-2 on the season, and awaits the winner of Stellar Prep-Salesian
“St Vincent was a good team. They’re big, physical, tough, and they have a good scheme,” Farrell commented.
St Vincent’s season is over, finishing with a 9-2 record.
“This senior class helped turn the program around. We took the next step as a program this year," Herzog said. “We had some great times together. Our overnight trips to McKinleyville and Morro Bay were special, and the CSD game was unbelievable.”
St Vincent will be moving into the NBL next season, and will be facing bigger schools in what will be a good test next season for the Mustangs.