By Ernest Stone
Up 41-14 with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Moreau Catholic senior quarterback Adam Robinson launched a 31-yard pass over the Galileo defense and into the red zone.
That play ignited the Mariners’ supporters, infuriated the Galileo defense and coaching staff, and illustrated the difference a year can make for a high school football program.
Just a season ago, Galileo defeated Moreau 28-25 in their non-league meeting and went on to win the Academic Athletic Association championship at year’s end.
On Saturday, the Lions were outhustled, outclassed, and overpowered en route to a 48-14 loss to visiting Moreau.
The Moreau (2-0) offensive line dominated the Lions’ front seven, allowing its running corps to gain 227 yards on 35 carries and allowing only one sack.
“We didn’t play well at all,” said Galileo head coach Mark Huynh. “I definitely have to get this team to understand playing tough and aggressive football.”
In the first half, the Lions’ (1-2) inability to control the Moreau ground game was made up for in their ability to control the Mariners’ passing attack.
Unfortunately, the Galileo offense found little to no openings in the opposition’s defense, and the Mariners entered halftime up 14-0.
Matters only got worse for Galileo when Robinson found his groove; and after beginning the second half with three straight incompletions, he threw a 38-yard touchdown to put the Mariners up 21-0.
The game-sealing play occurred with 4:48 left in the third quarter when a lapse in communication enabled Moreau to recover the ensuing kick off on the Galileo 30 yard line.
Just over a minute later, Mariners senior running back Brandan Nugent punched it in from 12 yards out, tallying his second score of the game and giving his team the four-possession lead.
“I do my job once I’m in the open field,” said Nugent, who compiled just over 200 yards of offense along with three total touchdowns. “The guys up front did their jobs too though, and I owe it to them.”
Galileo’s first points came when senior quarterback Jonathan Lu found Quincy Nelson for a 21 yard score with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
Nelson, who is regarded as the Lions’ premier playmaker, was moved from running back to wide receiver in order to counter the seven and eight man fronts that stymied him in the first half.
“I went to coach and asked to play receiver,” Nelson said. “I’m glad we have the type of coach that listens and responds to us, it definitely makes us want to play for him.”
Galileo’s faith in its coach and pride in its program came violently to life following an incident late in the fourth quarter.
After two more Robinson touchdown passes and a 60 yard touchdown sprint from Galileo junior Robbie Trumbo made the game 41-14, Moreau Catholic continued to pass the ball.
After scoring with two minutes to go in the game, Moreau’s second team defense was on the receiving end of many physical blows delivered by Lu and Nelson.
Shortly thereafter, the game that had turned sour was over.
“This game, bad and all, taught me all I need to know,” Nelson said. “I was running around and past defenders to begin the game, from now I will play physical and try to run guys over.”
Nelson’s attitude has been echoed by his teammates and coaches and Galileo looks to move forward as a humbled team in search of its past championship form.
As for Moreau Catholic, a program that has transformed from perennial losers to the team that some accuse of “running up the score,” the sky is the limit.
“We were 0-10 three seasons ago,” said Mariners head coach Andrew Cotter. “We are now looking for as many points and whatever confidence we can get. It has been a pleasure to watch this team play.”