Paced by an outstanding effort by their defensive unit, the St. Vincent Mustangs dispatched Emery, 27-8, Saturday afternoon in Oakland to remain in the North Central II/Bay Football League title chase.
The revitalized Mustang defenders had a lot to prove coming off a two-week layoff.
"We all felt disappointed about our poor performance against California School for the Deaf in Fremont," said St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway. "That was our poorest effort of the season,but the kids really showed up today. We worked on outside containment and it showed."
Almost every Mustang contributed on the defensive side of the football as they held off a second half charge by the Spartans to win convincingly on the artificial surface at McClymonds High School.
St. Vincent grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first half on a couple of four-yard runs by Derek Murphy and the Mustangs appeared in total control.
The momentum completely changed after intermission when the fired up Spartans unleashed an offense engineered by quarterback Nate Walker and a stable of quality running backs. Walker was able to mix in some key pass completions with critical positive yardage on the ground to bounce his team back into the game with authority.
Despite 45 yards of pesky penalties in the third quarter, the Spartans narrowed the gap to 14-8 on a touchdown pass of 27 yards by Walker to Elijah Lucy, and they began to march again.
Emery (5-3) came into the game averaging 38.8 points, and the potential was there to complexly turn the contest around. The Spartan offense didn't escape the attention of the prepared Mustangs.
This time the Mustangs stiffened along the front line led by Danny Rodriguez, Justin Sablick and Jordan Pech, and Emery was forced to rely on Walker through the air. This was the point in the game when their fortunes began to run thin. Some fine work by Murphy, Jack Richardson, Patrick Garcia and Austin Salizzoni on the back end steadily got the job done.
Salizzoni batted down a fourth-down pass by Walker in the end zone to allow the Mustangs some breathing room. It was his third piece of the action in the series as Emery appeared to be targeting the left side of the secondary.
"Many of our opponents feel that we are vulnerable back there, but I think that they went to the pass a little too often," noted a pleased Galloway.
St. Vincent completely dominated the contest down the stretch by controlling the football on the ground and scoring a couple of insurance touchdowns. Murphy capped a 66-yard march with his third score of the day from four yards out to help boost the margin to 20-8.
The Mustangs again stopped a Spartan drive with time running out, and Richardson got past the tiring Emery defenders on a 30 yard run for a touchdown.
Murphy had his best outing with 140 rushing yards and three short touchdown runs to pace the St. Vincent offense. Richardson was seven out of 11 for 96 yards.