By Ray Hamill — There was no shortage of big plays — nor talking points — at Crusader Field on Saturday, as St. Bernard’s suffered its first loss of the season.
Hosting Ukiah in a wild back-and-forth game, the Crusaders rallied from an early 20-point deficit to take an eight-point lead in the second half, but then gave up 22 unanswered points and lost 49-35.
St. Bernard’s senior Wyatt Simoni pulled in touchdown receptions of 76, 63 and 87 yards, while freshman quarterback Trenten Hagler threw for four TDs.
A strong wind also played a role with the momentum switching from quarter to quarter, as did great field position for the visitors late in the game, with the Wildcats’ final two TDs coming on 20-yard drives.
And the wildness didn’t end there.
A penalty call on the Crusaders that was reversed and apparently reversed again resulted in a 10-minute delay midway through the final quarter after the Ukiah head coach threatened to pull his team from the game before the call finally went the Cats’ way.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years coaching,” St. Bernard’s heads coach Matt Tomlin said. “It was a very frustrating situation and it kind of ruined the momentum of the game.”
In addition to Simoni’s big day, Aaiden Burris also pulled in his first two TD catches of the season, and Hagler continues to play well beyond his years with a pair of TD passes in each of the second and third quarters to help key the rally.
“What a game for freshman quarterback Trenten Hagler,” Tomlin said. “That was a breakout game for him.”
Simoni finished with 293 yards and three TDs on 10 receptions and also had 11 tackles on defense, while Hagler completed 13 of 27 passes for 283 yards, four TDs and two interceptions.
His older brother Ethan Hagler also had a big game on defense and finished with eight tackles, two sacks and a pair of tackles for a loss.
Check out one of Aaiden Burris’ two touchdowns on Saturday below …
“He’s had an amazing year at linebacker,” Tomlin said of the junior standout. “He had several big tackles today.”
“We ask a lot of those three guys, and they’re the heart and soul of our team,” the head coach said.
Sophomore Luke Brunton also had a touchdown pass, combining with Simoni on his first score.
Brunton completed 5 of 7 passes for 93 yards and the TD and had two fumbles, while Burris had four receptions for 67 yards and the two TDs, while also coming away with an interception on defense.
The mistakes however, proved too costly and gave the Wildcats too many opportunities.
“It’s just hard to overcome three defensive touchdowns, but they are correctable things,” Tomlin said. “There were a lot of good things, and I’m going to take a lot of positives from the game, like the way we rallied after getting behind by three touchdowns.”
St. Bernard’s dropped to 4-1, while Ukiah is now 3-3.
Next up, the Crusaders will hit the road for a trip to SoCal to play Segerstrom in Santa Ana next week, before a bye the following weekend ahead of their league opener against Fortuna on Oct. 21.
The St. Bernard’s JVs won on Saturday, defeating Ukiah 18-6 to go to 3-2-1 on the season.