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St. Ignatius Takes Control in Second Half of Quarterfinal to Defeat Half Moon Bay

Written by Benjamin KasselPublished Nov. 12, 2022 • 7:58am
St. Ignatius running back Jarious Hogan (26) carries the ball during the Wildcats' 24-15 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Central Coast Section Football Division II Quarterfinals in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 11, 2022. | Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri

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For much of Friday night, it looked like the first playoff game under the lights at J.B. Murphy Field would be the only one of its kind in 2022.

The host St. Ignatius Wildcats went into halftime down by two scores and started the third quarter on the wrong foot as the Half Moon Bay Cougars blocked a punt.

Perhaps that rude awakening was just what SI needed. The Wildcats played the final 20 minutes and 50 seconds on their terms, outscoring HMB 21-0 over that span for a 24-15 victory in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Division II Quarterfinals.

“Half Moon Bay does a really good job with what they do—year in and year out, they know what they’re doing,” remarked Wildcats head coach John Regalia. “For us, we had to kind of settle in and see how it really goes.”

Combining defensive adjustments with senior lineman Santino Franco taking charge in stifling Half Moon Bay’s inside runs, second-seeded St. Ignatius (5-6) forced turnovers on downs on each of the Cougars’ three third-quarter drives. The Wildcats failed to recover an onside kick to open the third quarter, but JV callup Jake Boyden blew up a fourth down pass play. Luke Leupold tipped a pass for another turnover on downs, and after Jarious Hogan’s 4-yard touchdown run cut the Cougar lead to 15-10, JJ Casey stuffed a fake punt.

St. Ignatius quarterback Soren Hummel reaches across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown during the third quarter of the Wildcats’ 24-15 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Central Coast Section Football Division II Quarterfinals in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 11, 2022. | Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri

Less than four minutes later, the second-seeded Wildcats had the lead on sophomore quarterback Soren Hummel’s 1-yard plunge, set up by a 23-yard pass to a leaping Con McKeon.

“We stayed pretty conservative in the pass game in the beginning,” said Hummel, who finished 12-for-17 for 116 yards, “but realized that our chance to puncture the defense was downfield.”

St. Ignatius running back Jarious Hogan (26) carries the ball during the Wildcats’ 24-15 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Central Coast Section Football Division II Quarterfinals in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 11, 2022. | Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri

Hogan’s 80-yard touchdown run on a sweep to the right with 9:38 left accounted for the final margin.

“We came out with a different motivation [for the second half],” Hummel said. “This could’ve been the last game for a lot of our seniors, and we couldn’t have that.”

It’s no coincidence that Franco, a three-year starter and two-year captain, played one of his finest games with his back against the wall.

“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached in almost 30 years of coaching high school,” Regalia said.

Toughness was one of the first terms Regalia had used to describe No. 7 Half Moon Bay (7-4) earlier in the week, and the Cougars, with all of 33 players on their roster even after calling up reinforcements from JV, certainly exemplified that in the first half.

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Despite failing to recover an onside kick to begin the game, the Cougars managed to hold SI to a 28-yard Cooper Lucey field goal on the opening possession. They followed it up with a 16-play, 78-yard drive that took eight minutes and six seconds, taking an 8-3 lead on Liam Harrington’s 7-yard touchdown and a 2-point conversion to Dio Lucido. An Aidan Vasquez sack with 5:56 left in the second quarter gave HMB the ball in plus territory, and the wide-stance, option-heavy offense ran the clock down until Harrington hit Lucido for a 32-yard completion. PJ Modena’s 1-yard touchdown run put the Cougars up 15-3 with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.

Barely an hour later, the two Half Moon Bay scoring drives were a distant memory as the Wildcats completely flipped the game to extend their season, with sophomores stepping up to ensure the seniors would have another game.

Hummel connected through the air with seniors including wideout Gus Parker and tight end Sean McKeon to set up the Wildcats’ touchdowns. Hogan, who was called up from the JV team after four games, finished with 156 yards on 12 carries, even with an illegal block in the back wiping out a would-be 61-yard score.

St. Ignatius quarterback Soren Hummel (18) prepares to pass during the Wildcats’ 24-15 victory over Half Moon Bay in the Central Coast Section Division II Football Quarterfinals in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 11, 2022. | Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri

Seven SI receivers caught passes from Hummel. Con McKeon’s catch on the go-ahead drive was the longest pass play for the ‘Cats, while Pierce St. Geme’s 26 yards from 3 receptions led the group. Parker had two receptions for 25 yards, and Moe Barnum brought in three passes for 24 yards.

Harrington ran early and often for the Cougars, accumulating 91 yards on 20 carries. Peter Valdez ran nine times for 40 yards, but the Wildcats held Modena to 33 yards on 11 attempts.

The Wildcats will be faced with another tricky run scheme next week when they host third-seeded Aptos (9-2). The Mariners, who run an up-tempo wing-T, had little trouble with No. 6 Christopher, dispatching the Cougars 38-7.

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Benjamin Kassel can be reached at [email protected]


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