SAN FRANCISCO — There were a few positives for the Justin-Siena football team in its 36-16 loss to Archbishop Riordan in a nonleague game Saturday afternoon at Mayer Family Field.
Riordan netted 234 yards rushing and 49 passing with 14 first downs, while Justin-Siena (0-2) managed only 34 yards on the ground. But Braves quarterback Zachary Zurowski threw for 149 yards, completing nine of 29 passes despite being picked off four times and tackled four times behind the line of scrimmage. His team managed nine first downs.
“We tried to execute some things in the first quarter that didn’t go the way we thought,” said Braves head coach Brandon LaRocco. “On the other hand, I’m proud of the way our defense fought back, showing some resilience in not allowing Riordan to score late in the game.”
The Crusaders (2-0) took a 7-0 lead in their opening series with a five-play, 64-yard drive. Curtis Jones gained 39 yards around left end to reach the Justin-Siena 24-yard line, setting up Antonio Posey’s eventual 18-yard touchdown run with 9:51 left in the first quarter.
Riordan forced a quick Justin-Siena punt and then went 77 yards in 10 plays, with Zion Wells going around the left end for a 14-0 lead just five minutes after the first score.
Before Gormley's score, the Braves gave their fans something to cheer about as Cole Chatagnier saw Wells holding the ball untucked in his right hand and forced a fumble that Gianni Natuzzi recovered on the Riordan 15-yard line. Three plays later, Emrys Davies scored around the right end to put the Braves on the board with 19.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
Jones was the mainstay for the Crusaders, with 17 carries for 161 yards. His longest run was for 44 yards to start the second quarter, which quarterback Michael Gormley followed with a 5-yard scoring run for a 21-7 lead.
After another Braves punt, Gormley completed a 42-yard pass to Zachary Jones at the Justin-Siena 1 and Chris Jones took it in from there for a 28-7 lead.
Braves linebacker Nick Andrews and defensive lineman Natuzzi made key stops before the intermission.
“Outside of that first quarter, we made some good stops by not letting them get into the red zone,” added LaRocco. “We had better execution.”
The Braves went three-and-out to start the third quarter and then kept Riordan out of the end zone. Miles Martin and Braden Snoke tackled Gormley at the 6-yard line to force a 23-yard field goal by Jack McNulty on the 10th play of the drive for a 31-7 lead.
David Larsen had one of four sacks of Gormley to give Justin-Siena a lift early in the final quarter.
Zurowski guided the Braves on a four-play, 81-yard drive capped by a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Sangiacomo, and Cesar Evina made his second extra point to trim the deficit to 38-14 with 9:26 left.
The Braves defense came up with the final score after turning the ball over for the fourth time at the Crusaders’ 1-yard line, as they forced McNulty to commit intentional grounding for a two-point safety with 2:02 remaining.
Despite senior Caden Parlett's 279 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing, fumble recovery and blocked extra point, the Justin-Siena football team dropped its season opener, 27-20, at Fortuna on Friday night.