By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers and St. Bernard’s Crusaders met on the football field for just the second time ever on Saturday night, and this time around there was a little more scoring involved.
In 1962, the last time they met, the two schools played to a 12-12 tie, but at Albee Stadium on Saturday night it took the two teams just nine minutes to surpass that points total.
And as expected, it was the home team that won, pulling out a comfortable 54-21 victory in front of a large homecoming crowd.
“I thought we played extremely well,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “We only punted the ball once on offense, and that came late in the game, and we came up with big plays when we needed them.”
The win keeps the Loggers undefeated in what has been a dominating season, and lifts them to 8-0 (1-0 in the Big 4).
“I’m really impressed by what they do,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said of the Loggers. “They’re a great football team. Hat’s off to their players, their coaches, their entire program. They have a special team this year, and I wish them nothing but the best.”
The Loggers had little difficulty out-matching their crosstown rivals in the trenches, and scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions to end the game as a contest early.
The Crusaders, however, caught the home team off guard on a couple of occasions with some explosive plays, turning an early Luke Fairfield interception into a 60-yard TD reception by Lane Thrap to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the opening quarter.
But the Loggers quickly began to dominate after that, opening up a 35-7 advantage less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Running back Lamarie Dunn continues to take full advantage of his opportunities carrying the ball and has established himself as one of the team’s most dynamic playmakers in recent weeks.
Dunn found the end zone three times in the first half alone, the first on a 21-yard reception from quarterback Cruz Montana, who now has 18 TD throws this season, matching his impressive total from a year ago.
Dunn, who also found the end zone on winding runs of 25 and 16 yards, wasn’t the only player who impressed.
Ryan Sylvia added a pair of TD runs of 13 and 26 yards, giving him a team-leading six rushing touchdowns on the year, while Alex Miller also ran in for a score, showing little ill-effects from a recent ankle injury.
Isley Tulmau, Casey Sidoti and the ever-reliable Robert Weir also had some big gains on the ground in that dominating first half.
Defensively, the Loggers again stifled their opponents at the point of attack, but Crusaders quarterback Will Omey broke a big run late in the first half, winding his way to the outside and taking it 76 yards to the house for his team’s second score of the day.
In typical Logger fashion, however, the home team answered immediately, driving 74 yards on two plays in the final minute of the half, and scoring on Dunn’s third TD of the day, an impressive run past several defenders on his way to the end zone.
Weir also came up big on the drive, taking a short reception 48 yards to set up the score.
Montana added a seventh Eureka TD on a quarterback sneak in the third quarter, and junior running back Trent Morrow closed out the scoring for the Loggers on another TD run, the team’s seventh of the night.
St. Bernard’s quarterback Bode Joyner connected with Thrap for a 49-yard TD pass for the visitors’ third TD of the game, as the two teams went to a running clock in the third quarter.
A late two-point conversion attempt on the Loggers final TD of the day, when they led by 40 points, drew the ire of Tomlin and the St. Bernard’s fans, but afterwards White said that it was a player’s decision and the player in question was reprimanded.
“That was not supposed to happen at all,” the head coach said.
On special teams, Eureka’s Ruben Gutierrez recovered two first-half Crusader onside kicks.
Injuries were also a concern for both teams, most notably St. Bernard’s.
Tulmau left the game in the first half for Eureka, while St. Bernard’s lost Fairfield, Talimaivao Fonoti, Jacob Smallwood and Sebastian Taylor.
“We’ll have to evaluate Monday where we are,” Tomlin said. “But that’s a part of football.”
Tomlin also said after the game that Omey came into the showdown with a back injury and was limited.
The Loggers will now get set for Del Norte, which is coming off a big win over Fortuna on Friday night and is 7-1 on the season.
But White likes where his team is at right now.
“How can we not be happy. We’re 8-0 and we’re playing well,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Del Norte’s video from last night. Obviously they were a much different team.”
St. Bernard’s will try to rebound at Fortuna in a game that could have big playoff implications for each.