By Zack Farmer
Four big pass plays doomed the Sacred Heart Cathedral football team in its West Catholic Athletic League opener against St. Francis.
The Lancers scored on pass plays of 28 and 80 yards less than five minutes apart from each other in the second quarter, then on plays of 61 and 83 yards in the third, en route to a 28-0 victory on Saturday at Kezar Stadium.
“It comes down to four or five big plays and I thought they didn’t quit,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “That’s what love about them. They never have. We got to hunker down and eliminate the mental mistakes.”
Not only did the Irish (1-3, 0-1) have trouble stopping the the big plays, but they also struggled to get their own running game going. Sacred Heart only had three runs of five or more yards in the first three quarters and rushed for a total of 61 yards on 28 carries.
“The running game struggled the whole time and that’s what made it frustrating,” Lee said. “We couldn’t establish a running game today and for our first three games, we had a pretty decent running game consistently.”
Without that consistent running game, the Irish were forced to punt 10 times.
“We had a good plan coming in,” said St. Francis head coach Nick Navarro. “We thought we knew what they were going to do based on what we saw on film. We had some good schemes to stop what they did and our kids executed it well.”
Already ahead 14-0 in the second half, St. Francis (2-2, 1-0) forced Sacred Heart to punt on its first possession of the second half and quickly capitalized. Following a St. Francis penalty, Ryan Johnson caught a pass from Mike Lauck, escaped a tackle and ran for a 61-yard touchdown.
On the first play of their next drive, Lauck found Alex Andrighetto down the left sideline for an 83-yard strike, extending the lead to 28-0.
The Irish had their best scoring opportunity come late in the second quarter.
Sacred Heart nearly saw its fifth possession end in another punt when the Lancers committed a roughing the kicker penalty to extend the drive.
Sacred Heart sophomore quarterback Logan White then completed six of his next seven passes for 50 yards to get the Irish into the red zone, including a diving catch by junior Brett Rasso for 16 yards.
With a minute left in the half, Sacred Heart faced a fourth-and-1 on the St. Francis 2-yard line and tried to punch it on a run by Rasso, but a wall of Lancer defenders pushed him back, forcing a turnover on downs.
Neither team could get on the scoreboard in the first quarter, but St. Francis had its chances. The Lancers had two possessions end deep in Sacred Heart territory, including their opening possession, when they failed to convert on a 4th-and-goal on the Irish 1-yard line.
The St. Francis defense was also keeping the Irish at bay early, and did not allow a single play to occur in St. Francis territory in the opening quarter.
The St. Francis offense was finally able to break through early in the second quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Lauck to Andrighetto.
After the Irish went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, it took St. Francis five plays for Lauck to hit sophomore receiver Brycen Carbonel for an 80-yard touchdown strike, putting the Lancers up 14-0.
SF: 11:25 – Alex Andrighetto 28-yard pass from Mike Lauck (Patrick Fordham kick)
SF: 7:24 – Brycen Carbonel 80-yard pass from Lauck (Fordham kick)
SF: 7:44 – Ryan Johnson 61-yard pass from Lauck (Fordham kick)
SF: 6:59 – Andrighetto 83-yard pass from Lauck (Fordham kick)