St. Bernard’s gave the No. 1 seeds all they could handle in a thrilling NCS football semifinal at San Marin on Friday night, before ultimately falling 26-25 to end another memorable season.
The underdog Crusaders rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 42-yard TD pass from quarterback Drew Sisemore to receiver Demarte Prudhomme to pull within one point of the Mustangs with six and a half minutes remaining.
A two-point conversion attempt came up just short, however, and the San Marin defense was able to hold on down the stretch, ending the game on a late interception with the visitors driving again.
“It was a fantastic game, and I’m not going to be down,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “It was an amazing season.”
The Crusaders could have opted to try and tie the game on a PAT after the late TD, but they went for two instead, as is their nature.
“It’s in our DNA at St. Bernard’s,” the head coach said.
So is causing far larger schools serious problems and a San Marin school with a student population of more than 1,100 was given quite a scare.
The No. 1 seeds came out the stronger of the two teams and quickly began to take control with TDs on their opening two drives.
The St. Bernard’s defense, however, settled into the game after that and held the San Marin offense in check for much of the rest of the game.
Carl Nunes got the Crusaders on the board with a 37-yard TD reception from Sisemore late in the first quarter, but the Mustangs would re-establish a 13-point lead with their third touchdown of the night in the final minute of the half.
Prudhomme got the rally started with a big fumble recovery at the San Marin 10-yard line, but St. Bernard’s was unable to punch it in and turned the ball over on downs.
A few minutes later, a blocked punt by Jacob Smallwood gave the Crusaders possession deep inside San Marin territory once again and this time they took full advantage when Prudhomme scored on a three-yard run to pull his team back within six.
The home team added a fourth TD early in the fourth to widen the gap to 26-13, but Prudhomme would find the end zone a second time on a five-yard run four minutes later.
The Crusaders then recovered an onside kick and less than a minute and a half later Prudhomme would pull them within one on his 42-yard scoring catch.
“The last three or four weeks of the season Prudhomme was locked in,” Tomlin said. “He just had an electrifying game for us tonight.”
Prudhomme’s third TD of the game was also the third St. Bernard’s TD that came on a fourth down play.
“We preach family at St. Bernard’s, and when we were down we stayed together and we played as a family,” Tomlin said. “The kids kept fighting.”
With the loss, the Crusaders close out the season 7-5 and they will say goodbye to a talented senior class, including three players — Smallwood, Demetrius Rawson and Brody Tomlin — who have been on the varsity roster for all four years.
“This senior class, I’m so proud of them,” the head coach said. “From where we were during the COVID season to where we are now, I’m so proud of them.”
San Marin improved to 11-1 and will play Del Norte in the Division-5 championship game next week.