By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei
In a match-up marked by plodding resolve, egregious turnovers, and heated exchanges, the St. Bernard High School Vikings grounded the Eagle varsity squad Saturday night 63-26 at SBHS. The Bernard victory was not unimpeded however, as the Eagles executed a series of impressive first down upon first down drives based on tried and true running plays and agile running backs Anthony Charles and Dylan Hall.
Early in the first quarter, the Viking offense blundered in a missed hike, which led to the loss of 15-yards, but such Bernard errors were rare for the duration of the game. Bernard was first to show on the scoreboard with a touchdown and successful field goal. The Verbum Dei High School defense kept the Vikings mid-field for the remainder of the quarter, owing much to key tackles by senior linebacker Avery Crump and Charles. As the roar of jumbo jets from adjacent Los Angeles International Airport filled the air, a VDHS possession and the first in an impressive series of first downs on a scoreless drive ended the quarter 0-7.
The second quarter began with a Verb possession, but the squad faced a strong Viking defense. A string of punchy running plays culminated in a long pass to running back Hall, who deftly caught the ball after it bounced off the hands of a Viking defender. Hall’s touchdown brought the score to 6-7.
The marauding Vikings responded with a 57-yard kick return for a touchdown and successful field goal. A loose ball by the Verb offense resulted in a scramble, but after being juggled between two horn-clad Vikings, Bernard retained possession of the ball and scored, bringing the lights to 21-6. The post kick off Verb possession near its own goal line was hard fought with the Eagles clawing only 10-yards in their efforts against the formidable Bernard defense. The subsequent Viking possession led to touchdown pass and unsuccessful field goal attempt, ably blocked by the Verb defense.
A sustained Verb possession brought the half to a close. With 5:25 remaining in the half, an Eagles offensive drive began deep in Verb territory. Short passes and handoffs to running back Charles moved the squad down the field to a first down. That first down was the beginning of a quick series of successful first downs, including a pass completion to Crump for a 16-yard gain and another running play gain of 15-yards. Only 43-seconds remained on the clock when a successful reception by Charles resulted in a Verb touchdown. The unsuccessful conversion attempt that followed brought the Eagles halftime score to 12-27.
The third quarter began with a number of Eagle missteps. A Viking pass interception, a 43-yard touchdown run, and a successful conversion added lights to the Viking scoreboard. An Eagle fumble, recovered by the Vikings deep in Verb territory, resulted in another Bernard touchdown and successful field goal, bringing the numeric lights to 42-12.
The post kick off Verb possession was true to form for the night with a quick series of successful ground plays dependant upon stalwart running backs Charles and Hall. The successive first downs were halted by a Viking interception at their 20-yard line. Impressive tackles on Viking running plays by Verb senior corner back Eddie Molina and safety Caylin Moore slowed progress as the Vikings sailed downfield toward another touchdown. A successful field goal gained scoreboard insurance for the Bernard squad at 49-12.
Verb began yet another quick sustained drive with first downs gained upon the running backs of Charles and Hall with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. A touchdown and successful conversion by Charles illuminated the scoreboard 20-49. The Vikings retained a lighted 56-20 cushion on the board, the result of a quick touchdown and field goal drive of their own.
The remainder of the game included a handoff to Verb’s Crump, who showed the power, strength, and determination that has been a hallmark of his play this season. Plowing through the Viking defense, Crump scored the final Verb touchdown, followed by an unsuccessful Eagle conversion attempt. The score was 26-56 when Eagle junior Marquis McNeil quashed a potential Bernard touchdown on the kick return by grabbing the foot of the ball carrier and bringing him down mid-field.
A Viking pass completion resulted in a touchdown and successful field goal brought the game to a close with a final score of 63-26. The Eagles, 2-3-0 in league play and 5-4-0 overall, will take on Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School in their final Del Rey League game of the season at 7:00 P.M. on November 4 at C-SHHS in Montebello.