The St. Ignatius football team nearly pulled off a miracle in its bid to win its third straight Central Coast Section championship, but the hole the Wildcats put themselves in early proved to be too much to overcome.
Aptos held off a furious fourth-quarter rally from St. Ignatius to win the CCS Division III championship 41-35 on a chilly and wet Friday night at Westmont High School in Campbell.
The Mariners (11-2) built a seemingly insurmountable 41-21 lead with just 3:51 remaining in the game, but that's when the Wildcats flipped the switch.
SI running back Elijah Dale, who finished with four touchdowns, punched in a score with 1:30 remaining to cut the lead to 41-28. St. Ignatius recovered the ensuing onside kick and, a few plays later, quarterback Ryan Hagfeldt found Joe Lang from 15 yards out to make the score 41-35 with 24.6 seconds left.
St. Ignatius (4-9) improbably recovered another onside kick following Lang's TD, but Hagfeldt was intercepted by the Mariners' Dalton Weitzel to seal the victory for Aptos.
The St. Ignatius defense had looked strong in playoff wins against Christopher (24-0) and Burlingame (41-21) leading up to the title game, but it gave up a host of big plays Friday. Aptos quarterback Alex Joh threw for 197 yards and four touchdowns on just 6-of-11 passing.
St. Ignatius, which saw its 11-game CCS playoff win streak snapped, won the Division III title in 2011 and captured the Open Division crown last year, but couldn't close out the bid for their third straight.
SERRA 21, MITTY 7: The Padres likely locked up a spot in a CIF Northern California regional bowl game by knocking off their West Catholic Athletic League foe to win the CCS Open Division title.
The game was tied 0-0 at the half, but the Padres reeled off the last 21 points of the game on a touchdown reception by Hamilton Anoa'i, a TD run from Matthew Fa'aita and TD run from Kevin McKee.
Serra beat Mitty 31-7 during the regular season.
Serra will learn if it will be playing in a NorCal bowl game on Sunday when the matchups are unveiled.