Football: Fourth-quarter Riordan miscues crucial in last-minute loss to SHP

Riordan sophomore quarterback Zach Masoli (left) tries to shake Sacred Heart Prep senior linebacker Luke Thomas on Friday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

By Jeremy Balan

After the first play from scrimmage against Sacred Heart Prep, Archbishop Riordan High School looked like a brand-new football team, but in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders made many of the same mistakes that plagued them in the past.

Senior wide receiver Nate Warren took a reverse 54 yards for a score to give Riordan a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, but the Crusaders only gained 18 total yards in the second half and had constant issues with center-quarterback exchanges in a 24-17 loss to visiting Sacred Heart on Friday.

Riordan senior wide receiver Nate Warren races down the sideline on a 54-yard touchdown run against Sacred Heart Prep on the first play from scrimmage Friday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

“Our team played valiantly and we had a very good team on the ropes. We just didn’t finish them,” said first-year Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney. “Every day we’re just trying to get better, but obviously right there we have to be able to finish.”

The Riordan (0-2) offense may have stalled in the second half, but the defense put the Crusaders in a position to score, forcing three and recovering two second-half fumbles.

The second, forced on a sack by junior linebacker Mark Mulligan and recovered by senior Joseph Gilleran, set up a 3-yard touchdown run from junior running back Armani McFarland that gave the Crusaders a 17-10 with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Gators (2-0) responded on the next drive, scoring on a 15-yard run that was fumbled at the goal line, then recovered by running back Daver Refioglu, but the ensuing extra point was blocked, allowing Riordan to cling to a 17-16 lead with 8:00 remaining.

The Gators first two touchdowns were both on recovered offensive fumbles in the end zone.

The Crusaders were locked down again on the next drive and failed to convert a fake punt on their own 33-yard line, but the Riordan defense held firm and forced the Gators to turn the ball over on downs with 2:46 remaining.

Only needing a few first downs to seal the win, two fumbled snaps halted another Riordan drive and Sacred Heart senior quarterback Jack Larson led the Gators on game-winning scoring drive, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Ryan Gaertner with 1:02 remaining.

“The fumbled snaps helped us, but we had some fumbles and mistakes ourselves,” said Sacred Heart head coach Peter Lavorato. “Give them a lot of credit, though. They played hard, and to be honest, I think they wanted it more than we did.”

After a solid first half where he threw for 74 yards on 9-of-12 passing, sophomore quarterback Zach Masoli was under constant pressure that drove him out of the pocket in the second half, and threw for only five yards, while being sacked twice.

“I’ve always said, ‘If the offensive line is good, everybody has a chance,'” Sweeney said. “This afternoon, they had some weaknesses.”

Sacred Heart Prep senior fullback Will Morgan breaks through the Riordan defense on Friday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

The Crusader defense did well to limit the wing runners in Sacred Heart’s offense, but gave up large chunks of yards on inside handoffs to senior fullback Will Morgan, who finished with a game-high 131 yards on just 10 carries.

Another close loss may be in the books for Riordan, but it was a far cry from last season’s 30-point loss to the Gators, who went on to win a Central Coast Section Division IV title in 2010.

“Last year, it was over in the third quarter, so obviously they’ve come a long way,” Lavorato said. “I think they have a real opportunity to turn this around here.”

Regardless of the circumstances, the Crusaders were in a position to win the game throughout, making the loss sting that much more.

“I don’t feel great right now, because it’s still a loss,” Sweeney said. “This is a work in progress and we’ve got some talented kids. We just haven’t put four quarters together yet.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
R: 11:39 — Nate Warren 54-yard run. (Jose Rodriguez kick good)

Second Quarter
SH: 10:46 — Nic Kawasaki fumble recovery in end zone (Brendan Spilane kick good)
R: 7:33 — Rodriguez 41-yard field goal
SH: 0:14 — Spilane 35-yard field goal

Fourth Quarter
R: 11:02 — Armani McFarland 3-yard run (Rodriquez kick good)
SH: 8:00 — Daver Refioglu fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked)
SH: 1:02 — Ryan Gaertner 19-yard pass from Jack Larson (Gaertner pass from Larson on conversion)

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  1. Fan says:

    Those miscues between center and QB were just awful especially when they happened back to back on that last drive. Then the high snaps didn’t help either. I really thought they would have pulled it out especially when they stopped the gators on fourth down. Riordan is definitely on the right track and with some fine tuning on the little things they will be ok.

  2. RC Cola says:

    Like I always tell my team… better to make mistakes at practices than at games, and worst case, better to make mistakes preseason than in the regular season. I’m sure Riordan will have all the kinks ironed out before Valley Christian on the road. OCTOBER FOOTBALL IS WHERE IT COUNTS…


    That offensive line definitely needs some work but all in all, the crusaders fought hard and are on the right path to a great turn around. With a great offensive line Masoli can get the job done.

  4. Anonymous says:

    nice run nate,great game mark mulligan

  5. jimmythekid says:

    The JV’s pulled out a great victory 22-21 against the Gators. It is a JV team with quite a few freshman playing. Riordan is back on track

  6. Observer says:

    I would have liked to have seen Harvey and Hall get a touch in the second half especially against that small SHP corner who was left in man coverage play after play. But with the center/QB exchange problems and the fumbles who knows how many plays were called for them to get the ball that never got a chance to develop. At any level, get the ball in the best players hands as much as you can. Overall, I like what I see from the players and field level coaches. You can tell the difference from last year to this year.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a feeling we’ll be hearing how good Riordan is becoming and how they are on the right path…..BUT they will win NO games this year.

    • Observer says:

      I heard the fired coaches were pretty bitter. Hating on the players is unbecoming though. Those kids are working hard. WWMD?!!!!…is that really the mantra of the old regime?

  8. sports time says:

    The kids are working hard and will get 4 more players back in 5 weeks. They are young sophomores but should be a help to the team. Fundamentals and back to basics for the QB and center to get the exchange down properly cause when they play better and tougher comp like the WCAL those mistakes will kill your team. SHC and SI looked good in their games, so the city schools will fight it out in due time…Good luck to all 3 city schools…

  9. WCAL Fan says:

    The kids on Phelan are looking better. They almost pulled this out. The center and QB will get it together. Keep working hard Crusaders and good things will happen. Glad to see JV got a win.

  10. Anonymous says:

    whats wwmd…….

  11. Bugs Bunny says:

    Why are we still talking about the old coaches. Our new ones lost a game they should have won! It is always I heard this or someone told me that. GO RIORDAN!

  12. RABBIT says:

    I agree with Bugs, lets forget about last year and move on. Go Crusaders!

  13. RC Cola says:

    Is it just me, or does the Riordan jerseys look really nice in the pictures?

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