A bi-coastal battle between national powers in the Bay Area and Capital Beltway turned into a tale of two halves . . . or really just a tale of a quarter and a half.
After trailing and being thoroughly outplayed through the first half and early stages of the third quarter, Super 25 No. 7 De La Salle (Calif.) stormed back from a 17-point deficit to slip past No. 18 St. John’s (D.C.) 35-31.
The Spartans (2-0) used a three-headed ground-and-pound attack from quarterback Erich Storti and running backs Kairee Robinson and George King III to systemically wear down St John’s, which appeared headed to a monumental victory before the Spartans defense stiffened.
Trailing 21-7 at halftime and 31-14 midway through the third quarter, De La Salle used superior conditioning and fundamentals to run its way to yet another victory. The Spartans scored three consecutive touchdowns, culminating in an 11-yard scramble by Storti to give the Spartans their only lead . . . and the only one that counted.
When St. John’s (1-1) needed a response, it got one but just not quite enough. After Storti’s touchdown, St. John’s drove the field and with 4:39 to play needed to convert a fourth down deep in the De La Salle red zone. The Spartans swatted away a pass that would have converted the first down.
That turnover on downs gave De La Salle the ball back with 4:33 remaining. The Spartans ran more than three minutes off the clock before being stopped on a third-and-7 and punting the ball back to St. John’s with 44 seconds remaining.
That wasn’t quite enough time for the Cadets and quarterback Kevin Doyle, who was intercepted by King with 28 seconds remaining.
The final score obscured a sound performance from St. John’s, which appeared poised to steal a memorable victory on a national stage. Instead, the impressive start from Doyle and his teammates was just more prologue for the latest memorable De La Salle victory, one which the Spartans hope will push the program toward another run at a Super 25 national title.
De La Salle faces Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) before traveling to Las Vegas to face three-time Super 25 champion Bishop Gorman, which lost to No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) on Friday.