Football: St. Ignatius makes fourth-quarter comeback to take down Mitty in CCS semifinal

St. Ignatius junior running back Elijah Dale dodges a Mitty defender during the game-winning touchdown run Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

SAN JOSE – There was no panic in the St. Ignatius football team when it trailed Mitty 22-17 late in the fourth quarter of the Central Coast Section Open Division semifinal.

After a magical trip to the CCS Division III championship last season, the Wildcats are battle tested in tight playoff games, and it showed in their 25-22 win on Saturday night at Independence High School.

Junior running back Elijah Dale scored from 15 yards out with 2:33 remaining to put the sixth-seeded Wildcats (9-3) up for good, but the St. Ignatius defense still had to hold a Mitty offense that had been moving the ball well all night.

The Wildcats even saw their defensive leader, senior middle linebacker Noah Bull, go down with a calf cramp with 1:50 left and the Monarchs on their own 36-yard line.

St. Ignatius junior wide receiver Joe Lang breaks away from a Mitty defender on Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Eric Sun)

But Bull returned four plays later, with Mitty (8-4) on the St. Ignatius 49-yard line facing third-and-10.

Senior safety Jack McGovern broke up the next passing play, then, on fourth down, Bull made a game-clinching tackle on Mitty quarterback Wyatt Hansen 3 yards in the backfield.

“Our defensive end kept contain and it was a great play by our defensive line,” Bull said. “First, I had to read the fullback in the backfield, so I’m just sitting there and the [quarterback] had some big runs before, so I knew they were probably going to run it with him.”

The Wildcats largely struggled to hold down the Mitty option run attack, but did enough in moments to keep themselves in the game.

The SI defense held the Monarchs scoreless on five drives into St. Ignatius territory (three turnovers on downs and two missed field goals) and the biggest stop set up the game-winning drive.

After Mitty came up with a crucial stop of its own, holding the Wildcats on 4th-and-goal with 10:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Monarchs nearly bled the clock dry with a 7-minute, 15-play drive down to the St. Ignatius 27-yard line.

Facing 4th-and-15, the Monarchs lined up for a 43-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked by senior lineman Kevin Sullivan and the Wildcats got the ball back on their own 36-yard line with 2:53 remaining.

It took just two plays for St. Ignatius to get deep into Mitty territory, after a quick-strike completion from quarterback Jack Stinn to Joe Lang, a 20-yard scramble by Stinn and a late-hit penalty on Mitty.

Dale then took a delayed handoff from Stinn and scampered through a gaping hole for the game-winning touchdown. Only up by one point after the score, Dale then took a pitch from Stinn and threw to a wide-open Andrew Vollert to give the Wildcats a crucial three-point lead.

But there was still more than enough time for Mitty to strike back, until the Wildcats’ final defensive stand.

“Obviously, we wanted to finish with the ball, but at the same time, we’re down and we want to get in the end zone,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “I don’t know if we were worried, but our players on the sideline knew that we could end the game on defense.”

St. Ignatius senior cornerback Albert Waters upends a Mitty ball carrier on Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Although the Wildcats struggled to establish the run (Dale led the team with 54 yards on 15 carries), Stinn continued his impressive play of late and found another offensive weapon against the Monarchs. Stinn totaled 189 yards on 13-of-20 passing, mostly on short-route completions to Lang, who finished with 118 yards on six receptions.

Lang was elusive in gaining key yardage after the catch and left several Mitty defenders grasping at air. The shifty junior also had a 32-yard run on a wide receiver reverse that set up Stinn’s 6-yard strike to tight end Nik Bell, which gave the Wildcats a 17-16 lead with 2:44 left in the third quarter.

“They were playing pretty deep in their coverage, especially with their safeties, and deep routes take longer to develop, so we just stayed underneath,” Stinn said. “Joe Lang had a hell of a game. Joe just makes guys miss. The reverse was sick.”

The Monarchs ran for 382 yards, which was alone more than St. Ignatius’ 340 yards of total offense, and with top-seeded Bellarmine awaiting in the championship game next week, stopping the run will almost surely be a point of emphasis for the Wildcats.

That will come later, though. For now, the Wildcats are just happy to play another week.

“I know for next week, we’re going to want to shut down the run game and have less rushing yards,” Bull said. “But right now, I’m just happy we won. I’m really not concerned about that.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
M: 6:24 – Andrew Scott 16-yard pass from Wyatt Hansen (Phil Langlois kick)
SI: 1:23 – Brian Wollitz 3-yard run (Michael Capitolo kick)

Second Quarter
SI: 0:18 – Capitolo 24-yard field goal
M: 0:00 – Langlois 49-yard field goal

Third Quarter
M: 5:04 – Daniel Mosko 6-yard run (kick failed)
SI: 2:44 – Nik Bell 6-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Capitolo kick)
M: 0:32 – Mosko 3-yard run (conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter
SI: 2:33 – Elijah Dale 15-yard run (Andrew Vollert pass from Dale on conversion)

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14 Comments

  1. old school says:

    Nice game and nice effort by St. Ignatius. This was a evenly matched game till the finish. I just can’t believe Mitty’s play calling on that last drive. 1:00 at the 50 and they pass one time out of six plays in the drive? Last play was some kind of run on 4th and 10? Anyways both teams battled hard all night and somebody has to win. Stinn is a gamer and so is #5 and #24.

    • jbalan says:

      Yeah, the players felt the last Mitty play was a straight quarterback draw on 4th-and-10. Regalia said he had to look at the tape to really figure it out, but Bull said it was a draw. I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to Mitty’s coach, unfortunately, but it was a curious call to say the least.

      • old school says:

        But besides that last drive Mitty had a great game plan. The sophomore # 1 on Mitty had Vollert in check the whole night. He was manned up with him the whole game. Stinn did a nice job and just went to other weapons.

  2. BigMikeDC says:

    Not the greatest game by SI last night. Mitty appeared to be much quicker on both sides of the ball most of the night. Officiating, we’ll I guess no one should ever be surprised anymore, just seems to be so inconsistent. Personal foul does not seem to be on roughing the kicker but on blowing up the unprotected center on the punt (although who would really know since the ref said nothing, except maybe to the coach). Excellent resilience by the players and coaches by keeping their heads in the game and getting it done. Wildcats will need their best game of the season against the Bells, especially on run defense. They can do it!

    • jbalan says:

      The call was roughing the snapper on Mitty’s second-to-last drive. The referees actually communicated it very well on the field, but I can understand the confusion in the stands. I can’t speak to the call, however. I didn’t see it, but for a while, it looked like that call would directly impact the result.

      • BigMikeDC says:

        We did not hear the call at all in the stands, that’s why we originally thought is was roughing. Plus, it seemed to be a late flag. We also felt that may have impacted the result….

    • Lance says:

      It is nice that a non San Jose area WCAL team has a chance for an Open title. Congrats to SI they have shown a lot of heart all year long.There run D will have to up there game against the Bells. As mentioned in earlier posts, the offense is quite boring but quite effective in eating up the clock. If SI can stop the Bells run game they win. In earlier games aginst Bells& Serra the run defense gave up a combined 800 plus yards. This will be the key to the game. If the SI run D shows up they can win. I really like the variety of the SI offense. Stinn is an outstanding football player. Shows a lot of character.

      • CrusaderNation says:

        Congrats to the Cats! Nice to see someone from the WCAL north doing well in football.

        Good luck against Bellermine!

  3. LittleHollywood says:

    SI has been using the squib kick. This did not seem to work well as their opponents frequently started drives at mid-field. In the second half last night they went the deep kick which seems to have worked better.

    The SI kicker came through with an imporant FG last night.

    The MItty kicker missed an extra point as well as a 24 yard field goal last night. However he also kicked a 49 yarder to end the first half. If Mitty had been able to get the ball down to the SI 30 yard line, Mitt could have kicked a field goal to tie the game,

    Lots of special teams drama last ight.

  4. Lance says:

    If you remeber the 1st meeting with the Bells at SI a very big advantage for the Bells was the Bells kicker ability to get the kickoffs in the endzone. Field position will be a key with a forecast of rain for next Friday.

    • GM says:

      This is a great point. Every kickoff was a touchback or run out from 5 yards deep. SI started every drive inside the 20 that didn’t start on a turnover. Gotta stop that QB spin around keeper to the left side the bells run 50% of the time…

  5. SI Sports Radio says:

    The top CCS Open Division Football Championship game with SI vs. Bellarmine will be shown on TV live on Friday, Nov 30 at 730pm on Comcast SportsNet California. Channel guide for your cable or satellite provider is right here: http://www.csnbayarea.com/info/channels-california

  6. Lance says:

    Any word on the status of Noah Bull? He looked like he got dinged up late in the Mitty game. He will be absolutely needed to help slow down the Bells running game. If SI can slow the running game, they have a verry good chance of winning. If they let the Bells get close to what they gave up in the 1st game it could be a long day.

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