ST. HELENA — In a battle of unbeatens and what could be a playoff preview, the St. Helena High football team was edged 14-13 by visiting St. Vincent High of Petaluma on Friday night at Bob Patterson Memorial Field.
Clinging to the narrowest of leads with just 8 seconds left, the Mustangs (3-0) punted from deep in their own end territory. But by the time Dante Antonini’s kick came to a stop, the clock had run out as St. Vincent celebrated a thrilling come-from-behind win.
The Saints (2-1) had charged to a 7-0 lead on the game’s second play from scrimmage. Senior running back Ivan Robledo, who had sat out the previous week’s road win against Winters High, marked his return to action in spectacular fashion with an electrifying 72-yard touchdown run. Senior placekicker Rhen Bothof added the extra point just 53 seconds into the game.
But from there it was a struggle for the St. Helena offense, which generated just six points while committing three first-half turnovers — the last one coming on the final play of the second quarter with the Saints driving deep in Mustangs territory in search of the tying score. St. Vincent's Malcolm Rooks snuffed out the threat by intercepting a pass from Saints senior quarterback Spencer Printz as time expired. It was the Mustangs' second interception of Printz on the night, the first one being collected by Jake DeCarli, while Rooks also added a fumble recovery.
The Saints’ lone score in the game’s final 36 minutes came at the 1:26 mark of the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Harrison Ronayne. The extra-point attempt was missed due to a bad snap. This specific mistake ultimately supplied the Mustangs, who held a 14-7 halftime lead, with their margin of victory.
The first-half miscues and other mistakes at key points in the second half left St. Helena players and coaches searching for answers.
“Obviously, games like this (against) a playoff opponent is a game of inches,” Saints head coach Ian MacMillan said, “and unfortunately we made too many mistakes to recover from in a game like that and those are things we got to work on.”
MacMillan dismissed the idea his team was feeling the ill effects of playing three games in 11 days. He added that he and his coaches will use the team’s bye this next week to figure out what adjustments need to be made to put individual players and the team as a whole in a better position to succeed with the balance of the season now at hand.
With the preseason complete and North Central League I play on the immediate horizon, the primary objective must be in focus.
“Obviously, that’s our first step to hopefully try to contend for a league title,” MacMillan said.
Following Robledo’s touchdown, Antonini tied the score 7-7 at the 7:23 mark of the first quarter and placekicker Kieran Pederson added the first of his two extra points on the night. St. Vincent took the lead for good with 4:17 left in the second quarter, when junior quarterback Jaret Bosarge connected with DeCarli on a 20-yard scoring strike.
Bothof collected his second interception of the season and the Saints’ fifth overall, and junior defensive lineman Jake Salling recorded a fumble recovery.
St. Helena JV 32, St. Vincent 3
The Saints, under first-year head coach Sam Licina, upped their record to 2-0 with a convincing win in their home opener against the visiting Mustangs (0-2). All the game’s points were scored in the first half.
The game was never in doubt for the Saints, who cruised to a commanding 19-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to two touchdown runs by Sam Raunegger and one by Micah Marquez. Raunegger added rushing scores from 34 and 60 yards out in the second quarter. Adrian Cortez accounted for the Mustangs’ points with a second-quarter field goal.
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