By Jeremy Balan
Behind a standout defensive performance and a few big plays from senior quarterback Jack Stinn, the St. Ignatius football team halted a two-game losing streak and ended the regular season with a 21-6 home win over Mitty on Saturday.
After being gashed by Bellarmine and Serra in the two weeks prior, the St. Ignatius defense allowed just 218 yards of total offense, forced three turnovers and stopped the Monarchs on fourth down three times.
Senior cornerback Albert Waters had an interception, the Wildcats recovered two fumbles and senior linebacker Noah Bull had nine tackles, but Mitty’s (7-3, 4-3) yardage total was also slightly deceiving. The Monarchs had a handful of extended runs in their option offense – the biggest, a 48-yard burst in the second quarter by running back Kyle Evans – but had 19 rushing plays of 1 yard or less, including eight for negative yardage.
“Our defense played well and we played better [than the last two weeks],” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “We wanted to get better at stopping the run and I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.”
The St. Ignatius offense was far from spectacular, but Stinn led three scoring drives to give the Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
The first came on the Wildcats’ opening drive of the game after a Mitty three-and-out. Junior running back Elijah Dale did most of the work on the ground, but the ball was in Stinn’s hands on fourth-and-1 at the Mitty 28-yard line. Stinn rolled left, nearly tripped over his own feet, then hurled a lofted touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Joe Lang, who was wide open behind the Mitty secondary.
The sequence wasn’t graceful and Stinn threw an interception on the Wildcats’ next drive, but he found his rhythm on the second St. Ignatius scoring drive right before the halftime break. The senior went 5-for-6 through the air and scrambled for 15 yards on a 14-play, 77-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andrew Vollert with 18 seconds left in the second quarter.
Stinn had his most accurate game of the season amid gusting winds that battered the Sunset campus throughout, completing 8-of-12 passes for 128 yards.
“It was challenging,” Stinn said. “Especially because one way, you’re going with the wind and the other way, you’re going against it. You’re not always thinking about that when you’re about to throw the ball.”
Stinn didn’t have to throw the ball on his final score, a 20-yard scamper in the third quarter. After being flushed out of the pocket, he froze a linebacker with a pump fake, then worked through the Mitty secondary before rolling over a defender and into the end zone.
“I kinda just go,” Stinn said of his scrambling ability. “I used to think about it and I wasn’t really running too fast, so I’m just going now.”
Stinn provided all of the scoring, but the Wildcats did not depart from their running game, despite less-than-ideal results through three quarters, and the patience paid off in the fourth.
Dale had just 50 yards on 22 carries through three quarters, but after the St. Ignatius defense stopped Mitty on downs with 5:29 remaining, the Wildcats ran 10 consecutive running plays, all to Dale, and picked up four first downs to wind the clock down to zero. Dale finished with 106 yards on 33 carries.
“We did a good job, with the 11 on the field, running the ball against a very good defensive team,” Regalia said. “They’ve held teams that run the football well to not a lot of points and not a lot of yards.”
SI: 6:16 – Joe Lang 28-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Michael Capitolo kick)
SI: 0:18 – Andrew Vollert 2-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick)
SI: 7:31 – Stinn 20-yard run (Capitolo kick)
M: 0:47 – Daniel Mosko 18-yard run (kick failed)