The dominating play by the St. Bonaventure offensive and defensive lines paved the way for the Seraphs to crush Santa Barbara High, 31-6, holding the Dons without a touchdown in a non-league football game at Warkentin Stadium on Friday night.
St. Bonaventure running backs Justin Cantu and James Arrellanes each ran for over 100 yards, and Cantu scored three touchdowns as the Seraphs handed the Dons their first loss of the season.
Arrellanes rushed for 108 yards on 16 carries and Cantu had 107 yards on 16 rushes. Quarterback Gavin Beerup was an efficient 10 of 13 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown and kicker Odin Rosten drilled a 43-yard field goal.
The St. Bonaventure defense also got into the act, with lineman Joseph Young intercepting a screen pass to set up Cantu’s final TD run in the third quarter.
It was a humbling defeat for Santa Barbara, which came into the game ranked second in CIF-SS Division 8.
“We just played horrible, just plain and simple,” said a disappointed Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone. “That team right there is a reflection of us, really. They’re the same type of players. But, like a told my guys, there’s just a little more discipline on that football team tonight, and my hat’s off to (Tony) Henney. They whipped our tails.”
The Dons’ first series set the tone for the evening. Quarterback Deacon Hill drove them to the 6 but they couldn’t get in the end zone and settled for a 20-yard field goal from Ty Montgomery.
“We just couldn’t put it together,” said Stone of the missed opportunity. “Our offensive line didn’t play well, we couldn’t run the ball, we couldn’t pass protect. We did not play well and it started there.”
St. Bonaventure immediately answered with a 65-yard drive, with Cantu picking up chunks of yardage running behind a stout offensive line. Beerup completed a 24-yard pass to Declan Handwerker to set up a 3-yard TD run by Cantu. The PAT by Simon Hernandez gave the Seraphs a 7-3 lead at 1:56 of the first quarter.
Santa Barbara, with the aid of a pass interference call on a third and 9, drove to the St. Bonaventure 26 before stalling. Montgomery booted a 43-yard field to make it a 7-6 game at 4:28 of the second period.
The Dons, however, could not get a stop on defense as Beerup drove the Seraphs 78 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown with 2.8 seconds left in the first half. He threw a 15-yard pass over a leaping Santa Barbara linebacker and into the hands of Handwerker for a 14-6 lead.
That deficit shouldn’t have been problem for the Dons, except on this night when they struggled on both sides of the ball.
They had St. Bonaventure on a fourth and one from its 27 only to jump offsides. The Seraphs proceeded to drive down the field on the legs of Cantu and Arrellanes, and Cantu scored on a 4-yard run to increase the lead to 21-6 at 8:00 of the third quarter.
Henney said the Seraphs have made big strides since their 13-3 loss to Bishop Diego three weeks ago.
“We took it real bad on the chin against Bishop Diego,” he said. “We really struggled offensively and since that time our guys have just done a great job of really focusing in and doing the little things better. We still have a ways to go but we’re really proud of them for the way they responded the last two weeks actually.”
The running game was especially impressive on Friday night.
“We think the running back position is one of the strengths of the team. Both those kids can really hit it up in there; they have some skill and power.” Henney said. “We’re really proud of them. Justin is such a warrior in there and James is just a sophomore and he’s about to break out.
“I think we did a really great job of executing,” he added. “Whatever we were calling it seemed to work. I thought we played as a team really well tonight.”
The St. Bonaventure defense used a variety of blitzes to confuse the Dons’ offensive line and make life difficult for Hill. The Wisconsin commit completed 9 of 19 passes for 128 yards.
“Our defensive coaching staff and our kids, they held Bishop to 13 points, Highland to 14 and now that offense, which is really special with their kid, to six points. That’s just amazing, an amazing job by those guys.”
Beerup, a Wyoming commit, drove the Seraphs to the Santa Barbara 13 before a couple of huge penalties pushed the ball to the 42. He came back with a 16-yard pass to Arrellanes on third down, setting up a 43-yard field goal by Rosten for a 24-6 lead with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Young read a screen pass from Hill, batted it in the air, caught the ball after it deflected off a teammate and ran 14 yards to the Santa Barbara 6. Cantu scored on the next play with 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
“The football team that showed up tonight is not the football team that I know,” Stone said. “It’s a tough one because I really thought we would do a better job than we did tonight.”
Montgomery was a bright spot for the Dons. In addition to his two field goals, he had a 70-yard punt.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Dons (2-1). Next Friday, they host an explosive Pacifica team at Dos Pueblos.
— Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.