By Jeremy Balan
Unlike its opener against Terra Nova, the Sacred Heart Cathedral football team did not get out to a quick start against Campolindo.
The Irish offense never really got started at all.
Other than a 50-yard touchdown run by Sacred Heart senior quarterback Jerry Peralta, the Irish offense struggled to move the ball and only gained 222 total yards in a 28-7 loss to visiting Campolindo on Friday at Kezar Stadium.
“We couldn’t find the ground game and our passing game wasn’t what it was last week,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “It’s frustrating. The offense was not clicking.”
Peralta’s touchdown run with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter tied the game up at 7-7, and it was a picture-perfect display of the read option.
Out of the shotgun, Peralta faked a handoff to running back Mike Wallace and the entire Campolindo defensive line and almost all linebackers tackled the tailback. Peralta slipped untouched through a gaping hole on the left hash mark and beat the Cougars defense to the goal line.
But that was as good as it would get for the Irish (1-1) and Peralta, who ran for 87 yards on 16 carries but only threw for 25 yards on 3-of-13 passing. In a quarterback platoon with sophomore Logan White, the pair threw for 43 total yards on 5-of-23 passing.
“We need to go back to the drawing board,” Lee said of the Irish offense. “We work on those individual things in practice, but we need to put them into action. Last week, we did. Tonight, we didn’t.”
After holding down standout Campolindo quarterback Brett Stephens for most of the first half, the senior got into a groove after Peralta’s tying score and the Cougars scored 21 unanswered points to end the game.
Stephens threw for 99 yards and had an interception on 7-of-16 passing in the first half, but the Cougars (3-0) changed up their game plan in the second and it paid off.
With a renewed focus on the run, Stephens settled in and threw for 116 yards on 6-of-9 passing in the second half, including two touchdown passes to junior tight end Justin Dunn.
“We had to eventually change what we were doing,” said Campolindo head coach Kevin Macy. “Our receivers are so young and inexperienced, and that brought some frustration for Brett [in the first half]. We had to stabilize the game a little bit and then look for our opportunities to throw.”
Stephens also ran for two touchdowns and preyed on an Irish defense that was visibly tired in the second half.
With so many Irish playing both offense and defense, Sacred Heart’s margin of error is slim. Against Terra Nova, the Irish had a 27-point cushion before fatigue set in, but they weren’t so lucky against Campolindo.
One of those two-way starters is junior Brett Rasso, who was the best offensive player for the Irish on Friday night. Rasso ran for a game-high 93 yards on 11 carries and had a reception for 8 yards, but Lee stressed the importance of getting the junior more involved.
“We know that [we need to get him the ball more],” Lee said. “I’m frustrated as heck right now, because we saw him open on a few routes and we weren’t getting the ball to him.”
C: 2:17 – Brett Stephens 9-yard run (Cristian Antezana kick)
SH: 5:42 – Jerry Peralta 50-yard run (Maxwell Tenhoff kick)
C: 1:05 – Stephens 1-yard run (Antezana kick)
C: 8:43 – Justin Dunn 30-yard pass from Stephens (Antezana kick)
C: 6:27 – Dunn 34-yard pass from Stephens (Antezana kick)