By Jeremy Balan
PACIFICA — It didn’t take long for Sacred Heart Cathedral to best it’s single-game yardage high from last season.
The Fightin’ Irish (1-0) amassed 553 total yards of total offense, better than any game last season, in their 42-28 opening-week win over Terra Nova of Pacifica on Friday night at Terra Nova High School.
It is the Irish’s ninth consecutive opening-week win.
“I’m just glad we came out here and got the victory,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “I told the kids that breakfast is going to taste just a little bit better on Saturday morning.”
Heading the potent Irish offense was senior quarterback Sean Murphy, who had 278 yards on 18-of-27 passing along with 55 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.
“In his first varsity start, I mean, wow,” Lee said of Murphy.
Murphy’s partner-in-crime in the Irish backfield was junior running back Valentino Miles, who had 174 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Miles, another first-year varsity player, was stopped regularly at or behind the line of scrimmage, but showed big-play ability with two runs over 50 yards, including a 57-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 after Terra Nova (0-1) scored on its opening drive.
“He’s growing,” Lee said of Miles. “He’s what I call a JV [running] back in transition. He’s trying to do things he got away with last year, but these guys are bigger, stronger and faster.”
The Irish spoiled a stellar performance from Terra Nova junior quarterback Chris Forbes, who passed for a game-high 389 yards on 30-of-48 passing and also led the Tigers with 81 yards rushing.
But it was Forbes’ two late interceptions that may have proved to be the difference in the game. His second was particularly deflating for the Tigers.
Down only 36-28 with 2:16 remaining in the game, the Tigers appeared to be set up for a potential tying drive when Forbes was picked off by Sacred Heart junior Jeivon Parker.
“Quarterbacks aren’t supposed to do that at the end of a game, not when the game’s on the line,” said Terra Nova head coach Bill Gray, visibly frustrated. “We have to perform better than that, but that is something about this team that is characteristic of it and we battle it every day. That is something that we do here at this school. We have to go through tough times before things go well.”
Forbes tore up the Irish defense in the first half, with 250 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and the Irish only held a 24-21 lead. But Lee made adjustments at the half and the Irish defense bent but didn’t break in the second half.
“It was frustrating for us, because we don’t see that in our league,” Lee said of the Tigers’ pass-heavy attack. “But we started to settle down and get in a pattern and we made adjustments in our coverage.”
Sacred Heart added a score late on a 28 yard run by junior Zachary Tapel, but don’t be fooled, this was a considerable test for the Irish.
“They didn’t go to the [CIF-Central Coast Section] championship last year for nothing,” Lee said. “This game shows promise. It shows that we can battle. That’s the kind of stuff that we’re looking for.”
TN — 10:05: Ryan Virgin 6-yard pass from Chris Forbes (Jake Dineen kick)
SH — 8:50: Valentino Miles 57-yard run (Sean Murphy kick)
SH — Murphy 22 yard field goal
SH — 11:57: Zachary Tapel 35-yard pass from Murphy (Murphy kick)
TN — 9:18: Jake Smith 28-yard pass from Forbes (Dineen kick)
SH — 3:43: Murphy 33-yard run (Murphy kick)
TN — 1:02: Elias Vargas 26-yard pass from Forbes (Dineen kick)
SH — 11:54: Rory O’Driscoll 17-yard pass from Murphy (Kick missed)
SH — 6:48: Murphy 1-yard run (Conversion failed)
TN — 6:22: Forbes 51-yard run (Dineen kick)
SH — 2:09: Tapel 28-yard run (Kick missed)