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Saints start fast, hold off Dons to capture Holy Bowl

CLAIREMONT MESA – After losing four straight Holy Bowls, St. Augustine flipped the script Friday night. Before a capacity crowd at Mesa College, the Saints jumped on Cathedral Catholic early and hung on for a 28-21 win.

“It means everything – we’ve been looking forward to this moment for four years,” said St. Augustine senior defensive back and receiver Sean Davey. “We knew we weren’t going to let this moment pass us by. This is the best feeling right now.”

With 2:30 left in the game and Cathedral Catholic facing a fourth down deep in St. Augustine territory, Dons quarterback Garrett Bogart threw the ball into the endzone looking for receiver Chance Early. Instead Davey was there, breaking up the pass to clinch the Saints’ win.

“The receiver ran behind our whole secondary and I just followed him,” Davey said. “When the ball was in the air I looked back and I probably could have picked it, but I just wanted to knock it down to seal the moment.”

After quarterback Evan Crower connected with Davey for a 34-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, St. Augustine (8-2, 4-1 Eastern) held a 28-7 lead and looked like they would win comfortably. Cathedral Catholic didn’t make it that easy.

“We knew they were going to come back,” said St. Augustine head coach Richard Sanchez. “They’re champions and they’ve been champions for a long time, so we knew it was going to be a nail biter at the end.”

Bogart scrambled for a 26-yard touchdown as time expired in the third quarter and the Dons made it a one-score game on their first possession of the fourth quarter when Bogart found Early on a 15-yard fade with 7:04 left. St. Augustine punted the ball back to Cathedral Catholic and the Dons moved the ball to the Saints’ 16-yard line before their drive stalled.

“We had a good game plan that we worked on all week and we knew we weren’t going to let this one go,” Davey said. “We’ve been waiting too long for this moment to let it go like that.”

St. Augustine scored on their first three possessions of the game and had a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Saints rolled out a balanced attack, throwing with Crower and running with third-string back Aaron Anderson.

“We just kept pounding the ball the whole game had a good balance and we played good,” Crower said.

The Saints and Dons finish the regular season as Eastern League co-champs. It is St. Augustine’s first league title since in seven seasons and Cathedral Catholic’s fourth straight.

“Cathedral is our rival and they beat us and handed it to us last year, so we had to come out and prove a point that we’re on top this year,” Crower said.

With the victory, St. Augustine appears a lock for a first round bye when the Division III playoff pairings are announced tomorrow. The Saints are in the running with Mount Miguel (8-1-1) for the top seed.

“With this momentum, we feel like we can do anything in the playoffs. I think it’s championship or bust,” Davey said. “We got this and we’re not going to let anyone stop us now.”

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