By Jeremy Balan
MOUNTAIN VIEW – After jumping out to a 14-7 first-quarter lead, the St. Ignatius offense kept opening the door for a St. Francis comeback on Friday, but the Wildcats’ defense kept slamming it shut.
St. Ignatius limited St. Francis to a season-low 124 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers and scored a safety to pick up a 22-7 West Catholic Athletic League road win.
The Wildcats (5-1, 3-0) recovered two fumbles, intercepted St. Francis quarterback Mike Lauck twice and held the Lancers (3-3, 2-1) to just 52 yards rushing (zero in the second half). St. Ignatius senior linebacker Noah Bull was constantly around the ball, had one of the interceptions and forced a St. Francis fumble, which was recovered by the Lancers in the end zone for a safety early in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 19-7 lead.
“We stepped up as a defense,” Bull said. “The defensive line was doing a great job of stopping the offensive line from getting to me and I was able to make plays. Everybody was around the ball. It’s really awesome when the whole team came come together in a game like that.”
The St. Ignatius offense scored on it’s first two drives of the game, both punctuated by touchdown passes by senior quarterback Jack Stinn, but the Wildcats could not muster another offensive touchdown.
St. Ignatius took three drives inside the St. Francis 5-yard line, but only totaled three points combined on those drives. One ended with a 23-yard field goal by St. Ignatius kicker Michael Capitolo (who also added a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter), another resulted in a touchback when Stinn fumbled into the end zone and out of bounds, and the final attempt stalled on a turnover on downs.
Stinn, who looked unstoppable in the first quarter, when he threw for 92 yards on 6-of-9 passing, finished with 127 yards and an interception on 10-of-32 passing, but was also the victim of constant drops by his receivers.
The Wildcats even negated a touchdown return by junior Joe Lang on the free kick following the safety, due to a senseless block-in-the-back penalty that came with Lang already well beyond the reach of any St. Francis defenders.
The one constant for the Wildcats, however, was junior running back Elijah Dale.
Dale had 135 of the Wildcats’ 139 rushing yards on 30 carries, and even though the Lancers only allowed one run over 10 yards (a 40-yard burst by Dale in the second quarter), St. Ignatius dialed up runs for the junior on its final 11 offensive plays to put the game away.
“Whether we’re getting yards or not getting yards, he still has that motor churning,” St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia said of Dale. “The offense definitely feeds off that.”
But for every misstep the St. Ignatius offense had in the second half, the defense seemed to have an answer.
Three plays after Stinn’s interception in the third quarter, with the Lancers on the St. Ignatius 29-yard line, Bull picked of Lauck. When Dale was stopped on fourth down at the Lancers’ 2-yard line, Bull stripped St. Francis running back Alex Andrighetto in the backfield on the next play to force the safety.
“Against a good football team like that, you gotta capitalize when you get a chance and we had a couple chances that we missed on,” said St. Francis head coach Nick Navarro. “Things just got screwed up here and there. It wasn’t necessarily one person, but every time we had a shot, we came up a little bit short for one reason or another.”
SI: 9:27 – Stephan Ostrowski 10-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Michael Capitolo kick)
SF: 5:43 – Landon Baty 1-yard run (Patrick Fordham kick)
SI: 1:59 – Andrew Vollert 6-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick)
SI: 5:16 – Capitolo 23-yard field goal
SI: 11:46 – Safety
SI: 10:23 – Capitolo 33-yard field goal