By Jeremy Balan
The score at halftime may have been tied, but make no mistake, the Archbishop Riordan High School football team lost its West Catholic Athletic League home opener in the first half.
Mitty gifted Riordan five turnovers in the first half, but the Crusaders could not take advantage.
The Monarchs then eliminated the turnovers in the second half, scored 21 unanswered points and cruised to a 38-17 win on Saturday at Riordan.
The Crusaders (3-3, 0-3) took a 3-0 lead with a 33-yard field goal on their opening drive and followed the Monarchs’ (4-2, 1-2) first score with a 14-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, but didn’t score on any of the drives immediately following the five Mitty turnovers.
The Crusaders essentially netted minus-two points off Mitty turnovers, when the Monarchs fumbled on the Riordan 1-yard line with 4:39 left in the first quarter, then responded by taking down Riordan running back Jimmy Stasko two yards deep in the end zone for a safety on the following play.
The turnovers created a disparity in offensive plays (Riordan ran 71 plays, Mitty ran 41), but the Monarchs still outgained the Crusaders 399-277.
“They gave us – well, we took – a number of balls from them, which is great to see,” said Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney. “We just gotta get some points out of those turnovers.”
Mitty rushed for 298 yards, led by 104 on six carries by senior running back Daniel Mosko, and only threw the ball three times in the second half, seemingly to limit further mistakes.
“Any time you turn the ball over five times in our league, you’re lucky to win,” said Mitty head coach Matt Haniger. “It was very sloppy and we have a lot of things that we need to work on. It was an animated discussion at halftime.”
You don’t have dig too deep, however, to see why the Crusaders faded in the second half. Due to injuries, Riordan suited up just 23 of its 31 rostered players.
Riordan went so deep in the depth chart that senior Kyle Craig scored both rushing touchdowns and had 25 yards on 10 carries. Craig, normally a tight end, came into the game with three carries on the season.
“He’s a pretty talented kid,” Sweeney said of Craig. “We went into a heavy formation and wanted to see if we could pound the ball a bit, and I think we did. Kyle stepped up.”
Craig also leads the Crusaders in receiving yards and receptions, and had four more catches against Mitty. Along junior Rob Valencia, the two tight ends were the main targets for Riordan quarterback Zach Masoli and combined for six of his 10 completions. Masoli threw for 73 yards on 10-of-16 passing and led the Crusaders in rushing with 79 yards on 18 carries.
“They’re good players and big targets,” Sweeney said of the tight ends. “We haven’t used them up to this point like we probably should have, but I love the tight-end part of the offense.”
Riordan senior running back Tre’ Gunter ran for 61 yards on 13 carries, but also played the majority, if not all of the snaps on defense at cornerback. Gunter, like many other Crusaders, showed visible signs of fatigue in the second half and had to be spelled often on offense.
“I don’t know if they overlooked us, but our guys hit them in the mouth and got a bunch of turnovers from them,” Sweeney said. “We made them play. It’s four quarters, though, and unfortunately we wore down a little bit in the second half.”
R: 6:31 – Angel Hernandez 33-yard field goal
M: 4:33 – Safety
M: 1:25 – Kyle Evans 3-yard run (Wyatt Hansen run on conversion)
R: 7:00 – Kyle Craig 2-yard run (Hernandez kick)
M: 8:16 – Chandler Ramirez 3-yard run (Daniel Rice kick)
M: 5:09 – Robert O’Leary 20-yard interception return (Rice kick)
M: 9:18 – Evans 7-yard run (Rice kick)
R: 3:12 – Craig 3-yard run (Hernandez kick)
M: 1:06 – Trenton Sharrenberg 28-yard run (Rice kick)