Friday night’s game in Atherton ended in nail-biting 21-16 victory for the Bells over a menacing Menlo-Atherton team that knocked out Bellarmine last year in the CCS Semifinals.
Austin Aijake ‘18 rushed for 176 yards in 29 carries, scoring all three touchdowns from all over the field including a one-yard TD rush and an uncontested sprint to the endzone from nearly half field.
The dynamic running back who has already tracked interest from several NCAA D1 schools and an offer from San Jose State also caught a few passes from Mingrone for large gains.
Harry Mingrone ‘19 replaces Ike Ogbogu ‘17 – who graduated last year and now plays for the University of Houston – as Bellarmine’s new quarterback.
The devastating injury of Jack Devine ‘18 puts pressure on the junior who was surprisingly unfazed on Friday by the massive M-A defensive line led by seniors like Ben Makoni (6-3, 305).
Mingrone completed 6 of 9 passes while rushing for 11 yards on three scrambles.
The Bells and the Bears went back and forth all night. Receiving the opening kickoff, Nick Anderson of M-A dropped the football, but it rebounded back to his chest. Anderson ‘18 then swerved past diving Bellarmine tacklers and danced his way into the endzone for a 98-yard touchdown.
In an interview with Darren Sabedra of the Mercury News after the game, Coach Janda stated, “We’re thinking bad thoughts, there is no question,” Janda said. “But our guys did a great job of responding and getting a touchdown back. That was huge.”
Bellarmine instantly responded through Aijake. Receiving a handoff, Aijake saw a gap on the left side after some excellent blocks and went for it. In a moment that would describe his entire night, Aijake juked one of M-A’s safety easily at the five and trotted for a tying touchdown within two minutes of Anderson’s return.
After a succesfull 43-yard FG attempt by Spencer Corona, the Bears once again scored a touchdown on a wacky fumble recovery after their wide receiver lost the football around 9 yards from the end zone.
But in the fourth quarter, Bellarmine stayed in the game after Mingrone connected with Noah Laine ‘18.
Soon after Aijake punched through past a pair of defenders, David Tafuna and Makisi Tonga, in the red zone and suddenly the Bells found themselves ahead by five points.
M-A’s last-second desperate 4th and 1 attempt on Bellarmine’s 6 yard line resulted in M-A’s quarterback, Miles Conrad to throw a pass that sailed past his intended target to a Bellarmine cornerback who knocked down the pass triumphantly.
Defensive tackle Thomas Diamond ‘18 told the Bell Online before the game that “We got get under their pads. We need to know our blocking rules. The defense needs to contain. It’s gonna be a battle.”
With this well-earned victory, Bellarmine moves on to (1-0-0, 0-0) and M-A (0-1-0, 0-0). Bellarmine plays against Clovis North High School on September 1st for its first home game of the season.