Young players step up to lead St. Vincent to football victory

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While St. Vincent celebrated its past at homecoming, it was its future that led the way to a 33-20 win over San Rafael on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs were led by fantastic freshman Kai Hall, who ran for 296 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. Hall ran for almost 200 yards in the first half as St. Vincent built a 19-0 lead and had every reason to celebrate homecoming at halftime. At one point, Hall carried on 11 straight St. Vincent plays. As a team, St. Vincent rushed for 325 yards.

But, even as the Mustangs celebrated one of their own, wide receiver Alex Ditzio (also an outstanding softball and girls basketball player), being crowned homecoming queen, trouble was brewing.

Already missing several players to various injuries and hurts, St. Vincent lost key starters and captains Rory Morgan and Andrew Kohler to injuries in the first half. San Rafael was also playing with its own problems. Wide receiver Drew Caveney was moved to the quarterback spot for the second week as outstanding starter Jack Miller remained sidelined with an injury.

The injuries and a blistering hot day resulted in a determined second-half dog fight that ultimately was decided by Hall and the performance of several other key Mustang freshmen and sophomores who stepped up big time to fill in for the hurting stars.

“He’s real, real special,” St. Vincent coach Trent Herzog said of Hall, adding, “our offensive line is pretty special, too.”

That line — Giovanni Vaca, freshman Cameron Vaughn, Morgan Moriarity, Gio Antonini and Garrett Caramucci — created the holes that Hall proved adept at finding, and once on the next level, his speed and elusiveness proved frustrating to the Bulldogs as the afternoon wore on.

St. Vincent pretty much dominated the first half, getting a 4-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jacob Porteous to Jeremy Bukolsky for the game’s first touchdown and break-away runs of 38 and 61 yards by Hall for two more before the homecoming festivities.

But the Bulldogs proved as tenacious as their namesake, starting the second half on a 57-yard march that led to a 10-yard scoring run by Jack Pocock.

When San Rafael wide receiver Jack Healey got lonesome behind the St. Vincent secondary to grab a 43-yard scoring pass from Caveney to cut the St. Vincent lead to 19-14, things begin to really get serious.

However, St. Vincent had a parry for every Bulldog thrust.

After the second San Rafael score, St. Vincent answered with a 68-yard Hall-carried drive that ended with the freshman scoring from the 1-yard line.

When San Rafael again got close on a 3-yard TD pass from Caveney to Healey, sophomore Dante Antonini, a standout in St. Vincent’s pass defense the entire game, clinched things by stepping in front of a Caveney pass and bringing it back 54 yards for a final Mustang touchdown.

“I was proud of our team,” said Herzog. “We only had 17 bodies. Our young guys really stepped up.”

The young guys included freshman tight end Nathan Rooks, who played what Herzog called a “phenomenal game.” Sophomore quarterback Porteous completed 11 of 20 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.

Now 3-1 on the season, St. Vincent plays its third straight home game next Saturday afternoon, hosting Burton from Francisco. San Rafael, 2-1 on the year, plays Healdsburg on Friday night.

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