A blocked field goal in the dying seconds lifted the Del Norte Warriors to a dramatic come-from-behind win over St. Bernard’s to secure at least a share of a fourth straight Big 4 championship on Friday night.
In an epic battle between these two league heavyweights, the Warriors rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull out an 18-17 victory.
The win was the Warriors’ 15th straight in conference play dating back to the 2018 season, and their seventh straight over the Crusaders.
Also on Friday night, Fortuna beat Eureka 38-14, leaving both the Huskies and Crusaders 1-1 in conference.
Appropriately on senior night in Crescent City, the Del Norte seniors played a pivotal role in securing the win.
“We stayed with what we do and we grounded it out,” Del Norte head coach Darren LaFazio said. “Our seniors stepped up. They really wanted this win.
“We needed to win this game and they knew it, and they played as hard as they could.”
The SB defense held Del Norte scoreless for the first half, and took a 10-0 lead into the break after a three-yard Wyatt Simoni TD run and a 34-yard Tyler Hinrich field goal, with both scores coming in the final minutes of the second quarter.
Quarterback Kyle Dixon finally opened Del Norte’s account with 3:17 remaining in the period, running in for a three-yard TD.
The Crusaders would respond when Simoni scored his second touchdown of the night on a 38-yard run with 46 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Sophomore full back William McCovey scored his team’s second TD of the night on a 51-yard run 90 seconds into the quarter and Caden Harrison added a three-yard TD run with 5:25 remaining.
“I was really proud of the way we came out in the second half,” LaFazio said. “Al in all, I think we played them tough.”
The game, however, was far from over.
St. Bernard’s had two more possessions to try and win the game, the first ending on a fumble with a little over two minutes remaining.
The Crusaders’ defense then stepped up again and forced a punt with 32 seconds remaining, before their offense drove deep into Del Norte territory in the dying seconds, thanks in large part to a pair of 15-yard penalties called on the Warriors.
There could yet be a three-way tie for the league title, if Fortuna beats Del Norte at Husky Field next week and St. Bernard’s can beat Eureka at Crusader Field.
Friday’s win was the fifth straight for the Warriors, who improved to 6-2 on the season, while St. Bernard’s dropped to 6-3.