By Jeremy Balan
KENTFIELD – For the second season in a row, the St. Ignatius football team let a win over Marin Catholic slip through its fingers, but on Saturday it wasn’t just a figurative description of what happened in Marin County.
The St. Ignatius receiving corps dropped seven passes, two of which resulted in interceptions, and allowed Marin Catholic to score 21 unanswered points in the second half to lose 28-21.
After back-to-back touchdown runs by junior running back Elijah Dale in the third quarter gave St. Ignatius (0-1) a 21-7 lead, the game played out in an eerily-familiar fashion.
A season ago in the Sunset, St. Ignatius held a 20-7 lead over Marin Catholic in the fourth quarter, only to lose 28-26.
“We’ve gotta finish games against the teams in our non-league schedule,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “This is the first game of the year, on the road, against a great opponent. There are a lot of tests there.”
In this season’s edition of the non-league rivalry, Cal-bound senior quarterback Jared Goff did just enough to push Marin Catholic (2-0) over the top.
Goff was far from sharp, completing 15-of-31 pass attempts for 325 yards, but he connected when he needed to with devastating results.
Marin Catholic responded to Dale’s 62-yard touchdown run with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter just over a minute later, when Goff hit junior wide receiver Andrew Celis for a 80-yard score to cut the lead to 21-14.
Then, seconds into the fourth quarter, Goff struck again, this time on a 2-yard, fourth-and-goal touchdown pass to Hanley Colton in tight coverage.
The Marin Catholic defense forced a punt on the next St. Ignatius drive and Goff again went to work.
The senior orchestrated a 84-yard, 13-play scoring drive that spanned nearly six minutes of game time. Marin Catholic converted two fourth downs on the drive and it was capped by another touchdown pass to Colton to put Marin Catholic ahead for good.
“We were trying to shrink the game, because they have a great quarterback too,” Marin Catholic head coach Mazi Moayed said of the final drive. “They have these great athletes who can run and catch the ball, and we wanted to limit their chances. We knew it was going to come down to a final possession.”
St. Ignatius got the ball back with 1:35 remaining and drove down to the Marin Catholic 30-yard line, but St. Ignatius quarterback Jack Stinn threw his third interception of the game with 33 seconds remaining to end the threat.
Stinn’s first two interceptions, however, have asterisks.
Both came off dropped balls by St. Ignatius receivers, which bounced directly to Marin Catholic defenders.
Stinn wasn’t sharp either, tallying 243 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-35 passing, but was certainly hampered by the rash of St. Ignatius drops, many of which would have went for big plays.
Marin Catholic didn’t only get good bounces off the hands of St. Ignatius receivers, either. The Marin County powerhouse also recovered three of its own fumbles on balls that bounced directly back to the players that lost them.
“We were fortunate,” Moayed said. “I guess that’s what they mean when they say the ball bounces your way sometimes. Any play can decide that game.”
Dale was one of the bright spots for the St. Ignatius offense and finished with a game-high 114 yards on 14 carries, while senior linebacker Noah Bull was the star of the defense, delivering several jarring hits and a sack of Goff.
SI: 8:51 – Andrew Vollert 22-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Michael Capitolo kick)
MC: 5:45 – Jared Goff 3-yard run (Andrew Celis kick)
SI: 9:24 – Elijah Dale 2-yard run (Capitolo kick)
SI: 5:55 – Dale 62-yard run (Capitolo kick)
MC: 4:50 – Celis 80-yard pass from Goff (Celis kick)
MC: 11:54 – Colton Hanley 2-yard pass from Goff (Michael Devine kick)
MC: 1:43 – Hanley 20-yard pass from Goff (Devine kick)