By Bonta Hill
Through the first 17 minutes of play, the much-anticipated matchup between a school from the Academic Athletic Association and West Catholic Athletic League was pretty close to even.
With Lincoln High School holding a slim 7-6 lead over visiting Riordan midway through the second quarter, the Mustangs had a first-and-goal opportunity at the Crusaders 6-yard line.
But Riordan forced a Lincoln fumble, changing the fortunes for both sidelines.
Led by junior quarterback Zach Masoli, Riordan scored 21 unanswered points and outlasted Lincoln 27-7 in the season opener for both teams.
The win snaps a seven-game Riordan losing streak.
“These guys have been working extremely hard and it’s nice for them to taste victory,” said Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney. “[There is] a lot of work that goes into Saturdays, so it was fun to be a part of a [win].”
After Riordan (1-0) recovered the fumble, the Crusaders drove 96 yards for a score, capped with a 15-yard touchdown strike from Masoli to junior wide receiver Chris Hall.
Masoli threw for 68 yards on 4-of-4 completions on the drive and tacked on an additional 7 yards rushing.
The junior finished with 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 12-of-19 passing, and added a rushing touchdown.
“He’s extremely talented and he’s maturing as a quarterback,” Sweeney said. “I’ve said this to people before, [but] he needs to be the Andrew Luck of Riordan football, and every day he’s growing into that role. We’re lucky to have Zach.”
Lincoln (0-1) scored first on a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore fullback Justus Smith, but couldn’t mount much offense after halftime. Lincoln finished the day with 236 yards of total offense.
“Players have to make plays and we didn’t make enough plays. We represented ourselves well and it was a great day of City football,” said Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno. “We have a good team and we’ll be all right. It was good for us to be on the field with a WCAL team.”
As for City bragging rights, Masoli and his team will gladly accept them, but with three more City opponents on their schedule, they aren’t satisfied.
“It’s good [to have] bragging rights, but it’s not the bragging rights I want,” Masoli said. “I want to go 4-0 playing against Lincoln, Mission, Sacred Heart [Cathedral] and St. Ignatius, but they’re not going to be easy games. It’s only going to get tougher for us.”
L: 11:56 – Justus Smith 1-yard run (Derek Morrell kick)
R: 10:09 – Chris Hall 18-yard run (kick failed)
R: 2:02 – Hall 15-yard pass from Zach Masoli (Kyle Craig pass from Masoli on conversion)
R: 3:01 – Masoli 1-yard run (kick failed)
R: 4:03 – Robert Valencia 24-yard pass from Masoli (Angel Hernandez kick)