By Ernest Stone
Serra High School ran 73 offensive plays against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday at Kezar Stadium, of which 72 were run calls.
Unfortunately for Sacred Heart, Serra fullback Alex Bravo was called on for 31 of those carries, and his 173 yard, four touchdown performance lifted the Padres to a 35-14 win in West Catholic Athletic League play.
In the second half, the Serra (3-2, 1-1) dominated possession, running 43 plays while Sacred Heart ran just 18.
“We knew that they didn’t want to throw,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach John Lee. “We made halftime adjustments we thought would work, but in the end we just couldn’t get to the point of attack.”
Early on, Sacred Heart’s (3-2, 0-2) balanced offense was equally as effective as Serra’s punishing ground game.
Up 7-0 and in field goal range, Serra’s lone pass of the day was picked off in the first quarter. On the ensuing drive, senior quarterback Sean Murphy led a 12-play, 75-yard march into the end zone to tie the game with 5:31 remaining in the first quarter.
After a Bravo touchdown run was followed by a botched extra point attempt, Murphy ran the ball in from three yards out to put the Irish up 14-13 heading into halftime.
Yet Serra’s commitment to its running game paid dividends in the second half, when, despite losing standout running back Erich Wilson earlier in the game, the team simply ran over Sacred Heart’s defense.
The Padres dominated the third quarter, scoring on a methodical 75 -yard drive and holding the Irish to just 24 yards of total offense.
After a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Andrew McAlindon brought the score to 28-14 in the middle of the fourth quarter, the game was all but over.
“It was frustrating,” Lee said. “Once they got up 28-14 we lost ourselves mentally.”
After another Bravo touchdown with 3:56 left in the game brought the final score to 35-14 in favor of Serra, whose only negative gains in the second half came on quarterback kneels at the end of the game.
“In the WCAL, there isn’t enough time to recuperate from a loss, so I’m glad our guys had a short memory and came out strong,” said Serra head coach Patrick Walsh. “We get St. Francis next week, so we have to keep doing what we did today, but in this league that’s easier said than done.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral junior running back Valentino Miles, who has been a consistent threat for the Irish all season, was a non-factor on Saturday rushing for just 43 yards on 11 carries.
Still in search of its first league win, Sacred Heart hosts Bellarmine next week.
JS: 9:10 — Alex Bravo 13 yard run (Parker Toms kick)
SH: 1:41 — Nickolas Grass 8-yard pass from Sean Murphy (John Harrington kick)
JS: 5:44 — Bravo 1-yard run (Toms kick missed)
SH: 0:37 — Murphy 3-yard run (Harrington kick)
JS: 2:47 — Bravo 1-yard run (John Vincent pass from Andrew McAlindon on conversion)
JS: 7:01 — McAlindon 1-yard run (Toms kick)
JS: 3:56 — Bravo 1-yard run (Toms kick)