By Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
J.R. Hardy intercepts a pass in Sacred Heart Prep's 33-3 win over Sequoia.
After cruising through the first five weeks of the season, the Sacred Heart Prep football found itself in a fight for the second week in a row when the Gators hosted Sequoia Friday afternoon.
last week, Sacred Heart Prep needed a fourth-quarter rally to hold off Menlo-Atherton. Friday, while the Gators never trailed, they were frustrated to be leading only 12-3 at halftime.
“No one was talking (in the locker room at halftime),” said SHP running back Andrew Segre. “We were frustrated even though we were winning.”
Sequoia coach Rob Poulos, on the other hand, was pleased to be down only nine points at halftime.
In the second half, however, the Gators pulled away to record a 33-3 victory.
Segre had a huge hand in the Gators’ win as he scored four touchdowns, rushed for 126 yards on 14 carries and caught four passes for 94 more yards.
Ricky Grau gave the Gators two runners who went over the 100-yard mark as he finished with 116 yards on 14 carries. Mason Randall had another efficient game at quarterback, throwing a pair of touchdown passes while completing 10 of 15 passes for 192 yards.
All told, the Gators piled up 484 yards of offense on the day.
Sequoia was paced by Aaron Burns, who rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries. Liam Clifford added 43 yards on 10 carries. The Cherokees rushed for 209 yards, but their downfall was their inability to throw the ball. Neither starting quarterback Faave Brown, nor third-stringer Aidan Pierce (backup Cameron Greenough was injured last week) managed to gain a yard through the air. They each completed a pass — one to Spencer Smith and one to Clifford — but for no yardage.
SHP safety J.R. Hardy, however, managed to intercept each of them — Brown in the first quarter and Pierce in the third.
“I’m completely happy and completely frustrated,” Poulos said. “I’m happy because we’re finally getting some push with our running game. I’m frustrated with our inconsistency.”
It appeared SHP (3-0 PAL Bay, 8-0 overall) was poised to turn the game into a rout early on. After only three offensive plays, the Gators held a 12-0 lead. SHP took the opening kickoff and starting from its own 20 needed only two plays to find paydirt. Segre picked up eight yards on his first carry before exploding for 72 yards and a touchdown on his second touch.
After Hardy made his first interception of the game — a high-flying, acrobatic catch — the Gators needed just one play to find the end zone. Randall took the snap and rolled to his right and found Segre in flat. He turned up field, got a block to get to the corner and then juked the Sequoia defensive back out of shoes and sprinted down the sideline for a 70-yard score and a 12-0 SHP lead.
On three touches in less than three minutes of play, Segre had 150 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
“We’ve had some trouble starting strong,” Segre said. “That felt real good (to score two touchdowns quickly).”
Sequoia was staggered but the Cherokees cleared their head and did a good job of shutting down the Gators for the rest of the half.
Sequoia (0-4, 3-5) lost Brown late in the first quarter and turned to Pierce the rest of the way. He did a good job of moving the Cherokees, but the SHP defense, while bending, never did break.
Sequoia got as far as the Gators’ 28-yard line in the first half before settling for a Matt Jenkins 43-yard field goal and trailed just 12-3 at halftime.
In the second half, the Gators finally got into a rhythm offensively and scored on their first three possessions. After forcing a Sequoia punt to star the third quarter, the Gators drove 80 yards on 10 plays, culminating with a Randall to Mitch Martella scoring pass for 32 yards and a 19-3 lead.
Sequoia followed that by putting together its best drive of the day. Starting at his own 33, Pierce guided the Cherokees down the field, getting to the Gators’ 24-yard line.
On the next play, however, Hardy came up with his second pick of the day and returned it to the 47 to set up SHP’s next scoring drive.
The Gators needed just seven plays to go 53 yards, with Segre scoring his third touchdown of the day from three yards out for a 26-3 advantage.
Segre then completed his four-touchdown day by taking it in from eight yards on the Gators’ next possession for the final score of the day.