By: Charlie Logan ’18
SAN JOSE – With just over a minute left in the fourth quarter, Bellarmine punter Casey Jaeb ’19 punted the ball from deep inside Bellarmine territory, hoping to give his defense good field position to send the game into overtime.
As the punt landed near the opposing 40-yard line, Archbishop Mitty senior Jake Serpa fielded the ball and returned it 60 yards for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown. Mitty’s celebration, however, was short lived, as the impressive runback was called back due to a holding penalty.
Setting up shop behind sophomore quarterback Shamir Bey at their own 35-yard line, the Monarchs (3-1, 1-0 WCAL) used the remaining 1:13 to march down the field and set up a two-yard, game-winning touchdown run by Bey. The visiting Archbishop Mitty topped Bellarmine 14-7 in both teams’ WCAL season opener.
Bellarmine (2-2, 0-1) opened the game with an impressive first drive, riding the return of starting quarterback Jack Devine ’18, who started his first game of the season after being out with an ankle injury. Devine, with the help of workhorse backs Austin Ajiake ’18 and Tyson Garcia ’19, marched down the field with ease, setting up a four-yard run by Brandon Bumanlag ’18 and taking a quick 7-0 lead.
In his return to action, Devine put up 45 yards on 4-of-11 passing. Despite the return of their quarterback, the Bells stayed true to their ground and pound philosophy for nearly the entire game as Ajiake, Bumanlag, and Garcia combined for 31 rushes, with Ajiake going for 73 yards on 11 rushes and Garcia adding 42 yards on 11 rushes.
After a quick score on the first drive, the remainder of the first half was played mostly in the middle of the field as both teams struggled to put together complete drives.
“We definitely started slow,” said Archbishop Mitty head coach Keith Burns, as the Monarchs failed to put any points on the board until late in the third quarter.
This slow start can likely be attributed to Mitty’s inexperience in big games.
“We started six sophomores, including the quarterback,” said Burns. “We just stuck to our guts and believed we could win the football. We have got some good young guys.”
The Monarchs started to shake off some of their rust late in the third quarter, riding big plays by sophomore running back James Thomas and Bey. Thomas broke loose for a 45-yard run down the left sideline, setting up Bey to punch in Mitty’s first touchdown of the game, tying the game 7-7. Thomas finished the game with 89 yards on nine rushes. Bey added 41 yards on the ground and both touchdowns for the Monarchs, including the game winner, while also adding 72 yards in the air on 11-of-18 passing.
Though senior Claude Cole ’18 made some big plays on the defensive line, notching three tackles for a loss and a sack, the Bellarmine line still thoroughly missed the presence of all-WCAL lineman Cade Hall ’18, still out with a leg injury.
As Hall 18′ and senior back Noah Laine ’18 return from injury, the Bells hope to get back to full strength when they host Serra next week.