Cathedral Catholic stuns St. Mary’s of Stockton 38-35 in overtime to win school’s second CIF state title and complete perfect season. The Dons overcame 28-14 deficit in the second half and win title in higher division (I-AA) than in 2008. Cathedral Catholic’s win also gave the CIF San Diego Section a 2-0 record on the day after Madison took the D2-AA crown earlier at Sacramento State with an almost equally exciting 21-17 triumph over Valley Christian of San Jose.
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The CIF might have to slip some extra payola into the coffers of San Diego Cathedral Catholic and Stockton St. Mary’s after the two parochial powerhouses played in another of the most exciting CIF state football finals since the series was jump started in 2006.
This time, St. Mary’s hopes of capturing its first-ever CIF state title were ripped from the players’ collective hearts in a 38-35 overtime loss to the Dons in the CIF Division I-AA state championship played Friday at Sacramento State. In the school’s first trip to the state finals in 2008, Cathedral Catholic happened to be on the other side that day as well and defeated the Rams 37-34 in another back-and-forth thriller.
With the teams sitting right next to each other in the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 25 with the Dons at No. 5 and the Rams at No. 6, such a close contest was expected by many.
Both teams also were looking to become historically great teams within their CIF sections. Cathedral Catholic became just the second team in San Diego Section history to finish 15-0 on-the-field and just the second to win a CIF state title in Division I. The first was Oceanside in D1 in 2009. Last year’s Mater Dei Catholic team also went 15-0 on-the-field, but had a forfeit loss so its official final record was 14-1. With another win, St. Mary’s also would have perhaps lifted itself into discussion about the best teams ever from the Sac-Joaquin Section. Even in defeat, the Rams still scored 831 points in 16 games for the fourth-highest total in state history, according to the Cal-Hi Sports state records.
“These kids fight for it,” said Cathedral Catholic head coach Sean Doyle. “They work for it since January to get something like this. It’s a special thing.”
“It was just an amazing season,” said St. Mary’s head coach Tony Franks, who has been friends with Doyle for many years. “It was historical. We never in the history of our school won 14 games in a season and we did that this year. Winning 14 games, a NorCal championship and all the things we accomplished this year with this team was historical.
“The game could of gone either way there at the end and it didn’t go our way.”
St. Mary’s, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion and winner last week over Freedom of Oakley in the NorCal regional game, looked to be in good shape with 58 seconds left in the third quarter when junior standout Dusty Frampton powered into the end zone on a 14-yard run to give the Rams a 28-14 lead.
Cathedral Catholic answered with a 12-play drive that covered 69 yards and got back in the game on a 8-yard pass from Tate Haynes to Jack Thompson with 7:22 remaining.
It looked like St. Mary’s might answer with another score of its own, but was stopped one-yard short on a fourth-down play at the 10-yard line. Cathedral Catholic’s chance to tie it up on the next series, however, was prevented on a fumble recovery by the Rams’ Marquez Vaughn.
With 2:54 left and the Dons still down 28-21, they started a drive at their own 20-yard line and on just the second play the game turned completely in their favor. That’s when sophomore running back Shawn Poma grabbed a screen pass from Haynes and weaved his way down the sidelines for a 77-yard touchdown. After the PAT, the score was tied 28-28.
At this point, Frampton was getting treated for a foot injury and was not available. The Rams still had plenty of firepower on the field and plenty of time to score, but disaster struck on their second play on the next series. QB Jake Dunniway tried a pass down the seam, but Morrison Mirer of the Dons came up with the interception and not only that but ended up returning the theft for a 55-yard touchdown.
Just like that St. Mary’s saw a 28-21 lead turn into a 35-28 hole.
“I was just smiling,” said Mirer, the son of former Notre Dame QB Rick Mirer. “It was my first pick of the year. We had our coverage in and just executed.”
There was still 1:30 left in the game, however, and it ended up being Cathedral Catholic’s turn to get stunned. With 45 seconds left, Dunniway bought time and scrambled before spotting a wide open Tre Jenkins 50 yards down the field. Jenkins hauled in the pass and scored. The PAT tied it up at 35-35 presenting the likelihood of overtime.
After some checking, it was confirmed that the only other overtime game since the CIF bowl games from 2006 was a 2006 game between Oaks Christian of Westlake Village and Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.
In the extra period, the Rams went first and on fourth down from the 1-yard line, Dunniway took it himself but could not squeeze into the end zone. That gave Cathedral Catholic a huge advantage because all it had to do was kick a field goal to win. Doyle still called three running plays, which did get the ball to the 1, but a fourth down play pushed the Dons back five yards on a penalty. Kicker Liam King then trotted out and after a St. Mary’s timeout drilled the game-winning field goal.
“It was unreal,” Doyle said. “We score one to tie the game and one to take the lead. A minute left in the game and we think we have it done and they get behind us to tie the game.”
Not having Frampton available for the final 3:36 of regulation and overtime proved very costly for St. Mary’s. When he left, he had 33 carries for 179 yards and one TD. Dunniway also still had a strong night despite the last pick six and ended 31 of 46 for 411 yards and four TDs. Seniors Dewey Cotton (12 catches, 123 yards) and Marcus Aponte (10 for 126, 2 TDs) both went out with style as well.
With Cathedral Catholic also churning out more than 500 yards with 503, the two teams combined for 1,114 yards. The Dons didn’t have a 100-yard rusher, but Haynes topped out with 318 yards (going 18 of 28) and three TDs. Thompson also had a TD catch in the first half to go with the one he had at the start of the fourth quarter.
“Unbelieveable,” Mirer said. “All season we had our three goals. Undefeated, CIF and state and we got it.”
Madison (San Diego) 21,
Valley Christian (San Jose) 17
Writeup by Paul Muyskens
As they had been doing all postseason long, the Warhawks once again came from behind to get the win as they trailed twice before holding on for the Division II-AA state championship in the first of five games to be played at Sacramento State.
Despite several big penalties, the Warhawks were able to take the early lead on a Erick Buchanan 11-yard touchdown run to start a big night that saw him rush for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. That lead would be a short one, however, as Javon Sturns scored on a 8-yard touchdown run to tie things up late in the first quarter.
That defense had the Warhawks down by just three points at halftime despite a pair of turnovers deep in their own territory — one on a fumbled punt. All that Valley Christian could get in three trips inside the 25-yard line was Bailey Schroeder kicking a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the Warriors a 10-7 lead.
Getting the ball to start the second half, Madison once again scored on its first series of the half. Quarterback Terrell Carter made two big plays on the drive, the first of which saw him complete a 28-yard pass to move the chains on third down and get the ball down to the Warriors’ 37-yard line. One play later, Carter again created a big play as he scrambled back 15 yards to avoid a sack and let go of a pass to Brandon Lewis down the sideline for the 37-yard touchdown and the lead.
“We wanted to prove we can run the ball too. We weren’t trying to score but were trying to chunk them,” said Jackson, whose now won two CIF state titles (the first in 2012 against Marin Catholic and QB Jared Goff). “It was okay in this game to get three or four yards at a time. I just think (winning two) says a lot about our program. We have guys who work all year round and it validates why we do it. Helps everyone buy into it.”
Just like they did in the first half, the Warriors responded with a touchdown of their own on a lengthy drive that included several big pass plays to Anthony Flores, including a six-yard touchdown pass from Miles Kendrick to cap the 11-play 69-yard drive to give them a 17-14 lead with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Unlike the first half, the Warhawks then found the end zone a second time. Their eight-play drive went 75 yards in 2:54 capped off by an eight-yard run nearly untouched into the end zone by Buchanan with 41 seconds left in the third quarter that turned out to be the game-winning score.
“We just love to work hard, we just never give up,” said Carter. “This is a great feeling.”
“Countless hours of hard work and everyday running and it all paid off,” said standout linebacker Sampson Niu after the game.
Niu and that defense still had to come up with one final stop. The Warriors got a fourth-down stop with 30 seconds left from their own 12-yard line, but had no timeouts and needed a touchdown to steal the state title. After three passes moved them within range, Kendrick was able to unleash a Hail Mary pass. Carter, the quarterback, was the one who knocked down the pass, causing the Warhawks’ sideline to go nuts celebrating their state title.
“It was a tall order to go the length of the field in 30 seconds but we executed it well and having that last play was all we could ask for,” said Warriors head coach Mike Machado. “I’ll think about all the mistakes we made tonight when looking back on it. In games like this you just can’t make them like that. Our defense played great. These guys we just played are disappointed when they don’t get 50. This was a united group this year. I’m prouder of them than you can imagine. It was a united group that stuck together. They earned the right to be here.”
Sturns finished with 76 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries while Kendrick completed 8 of his 17 pass attempts for 104 yards and one score in the loss. Carter ended the night completing 14 of his 24 pass attempts for 195 yards and a score while also rushing for 28 yards. Elijah Thomas and Brandon Lewis each caught four passes with Thomas going for 63 yards and Lewis ending with 60 yards and the touchdown catch.