By Jeremy Balan
Valley Christian of San Jose did everything it could to give the St. Ignatius football team a win Saturday afternoon, but the Wildcats simply could not capitalize.
The visiting Warriors made crucial mistakes in the fourth quarter to give St. Ignatius several opportunities to erase a 24-14 lead, but held on for a 24-21 win.
The first mistake came on a St. Ignatius punt early in the final quarter, when standout Valley Christian running back Byron Marshall muffed a punt that was recovered by the Wildcats at the Warriors’ 19-yard line.
St. Ignatius (2-3-1, 0-2-1) drove the ball down to the Valley Christian 2-yard line, but lost a fumble on a botched handoff on the next play.
Then, after a Valley Christian (3-3, 2-1) three-and-out, the Warriors turned the ball over again on their own 10-yard line on a botched punt.
The Wildcats took advantage this time, though, and St. Ignatius quarterback Jack Stinn found Ryan Gazale for a 8-yard score to cut the lead to 24-21.
The St. Ignatius defense forced another three-and-out on the next series and the Wildcats got the ball back on the 50-yard line with just under five minutes remaining.
The Wildcats responded with a three-and-out of their own, and instead of going for it on fourth-and-6 on the Valley Christian 46-yard line, the Wildcats punted the ball away with 3:42 remaining.
“We had three timeouts with over 3:30 left,” said St. Ignatius coach John Regalia. “We wanted to pin them deep and get good field position.”
But when the Warriors got the ball back, they did what they do best — run the ball and eat up the clock. St. Ignatius never got the ball back, as the Warriors ended the game with a 10-play, 70-yard drive to wind the clock down to zero.
“Today our guys came together,” said Valley Christian coach Mike Machado. “It’s a very well-earned and sweet win.”
The St. Ignatius offense looked impressive on its first possession of each half, but often fell into a predictable rhythm.
After a shaky first half, Stinn connected on his first five passes of the second half, but only threw the ball three times in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats also only threw the ball once on first down and twice on second down in the second half.
Stinn threw for 119 yards on 8-of-15 passing, while the running game was largely ineffective in the second half and totaled 122 yards in the game.
“We want balance, but we also want to attack them where we can,” Regalia said. “We feel confident in our running game and our passing game, so depending on what teams are giving us is how we go through the course of the game.”
The St. Ignatius defense, which gave up over 500 yards rushing to Serra last week, struggled stopping the run in key moments against Valley Christian and allowed the Warriors to run for 316 yards, led by senior Jarrod Lawson’s 189 yards on 18 carries.
“All their backs run really hard and they’re all good,” Regalia said. “That’s the strength of their offense.”
SI: 5:40 — Kerry Crowley 3-yard run (Michael Capitolo kick good)
VC: 4:45 — Jarrod Lawson 77-yard run (Philip Ramirez kick good)
VC: 7:06 — Lawson 7-yard run (Ramirez kick good)
VC: 0:01 — Ramirez 37-yard field goal
SI: 7:26 — Dom Truoccolo 2-yard run (Capitolo kick good)
VC: 3:33 — Byron Marshall 2-yard run (Ramirez kick good)
SI: 6:56 — Ryan Gazale 8-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Capitolo kick good)