In a football season where so many things have gone as planned in San Francisco, the first real shocker of the year came from maybe the most unlikely source — Archbishop Riordan High School.
Behind the play of standout wide receiver and defensive back A.J. Lewis, the Crusaders stunned rival St. Ignatius 21-14 on Saturday.
The win is the first for Riordan and first-year head coach Bryan Blake, a St. Ignatius graduate, who was visibly emotional after the game.
“I’m just so happy for our kids,” Blake said. “They work so hard all year long and everybody picks them to lose. They just don’t care. I’m just so proud of them and how they can have this feeling.”
Lewis began the day by returning the opening kickoff 85 yards for the touchdown and the Crusaders (1-4, 1-1) carried that 7-0 lead into the half, but St. Ignatius scored twice in the third quarter to take a 14-7 lead.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Lewis made his presence felt again when he intercepted a pass from St. Ignatius quarterback Jeff Farlow and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown with 6:43 remaining in the game.
“We played all four quarters, we never stopped going,” Lewis said. “I try to keep it to myself and be humble, but I feel like if I go hard I can be unstoppable.”
The score was quickly forgotten, however, as Riordan kicker Henry Soto missed the ensuing extra point, allowing the Wildcats (1-3-1) to cling to a 14-13 lead.
But the Crusaders forced St. Ignatius to punt on their next drive, and quarterback Ismael Orozco had just under five minutes to complete the game-winning drive from the Riordan 45-yard line.
Orozco ran for 17 yards and completed 3-of-4 passes for 33 yards on the drive, including the eventual game-winning score on an 11-yard pass to Trejon Bolden with just 1:32 remaining.
Lewis was also a considerable presence on the last drive, catching a pass for a crucial first down and drawing a pass interference call to set up the game-winning score.
Lewis finished with 61 yards on five receptions and led the Crusaders with a team-high nine tackles as a defensive back.
“A.J. Lewis is a big-time player,” Blake said. “The kid makes big plays when everybody knows he has to make a big play. He’s a special kid.”
For St. Ignatius, the loss was more than discouraging. Riordan had lost its first four games by a combined 197-71 and the Wildcats won last year’s meeting 34-16. The Wildcats also out-gained Riordan 260-139
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