St. Augustine running back Elijah Preston gained 114 yards on 20 carries, including a 40-yard TD run.
Attend a Holy Bowl game between St. Augustine and Cathedral Catholic and you learn a couple of things.
One, emotionally this is the most important game of the season for the teams.
Two, always expect the unexpected.
No. 10-ranked St. Augustine (6-2, 2-0) played its best defensive game of the season and sophomore Elijah Preston broke loose in the second half to lead the Saints to a 19-7 victory over the 5th-ranked Dons (6-2, 2-1) at Manchester Stadium.
“I talked to the offensive line at the half,” said the diminutive Preston, who finished with 114 yards on 20 carries, including a 40-yard touchdown scamper.
“We needed a little push, that’s all, and they’re my family.”
The Saints snapped Cathedral’s two-year winning streak in the rivalry and the defense played just as big a role as the offense.
“I can’t explain how good it is to win this game,” said Nicholas Allard, a 6-foot-2 defensive end who helped pressure Cathedral quarterback Clayton Dale into a 5-for-18 passing night for just 39 yards and a huge interception when it appeared the Dons were going in for a score midway through the fourth quarter. “We had to stop their run.”
The Saints did just that, yielding 111 yards on the ground. Cathedral’s leading rusher, Chris Moliga, did punch in a 2-yard TD to tie the score in the second quarter as he finished with 83 yards.
Meanwhile, Jo Jo Hudson was 11-of-16 for 187 yards passing for St. Augustine, including a 75-yard TD to Ethan Sanchez giving the Saints a 13-7 lead at the break.
The most impressive drive of the night was the game’s first as St. Augustine marched 80 yards in 16 plays, eating up more than 9 minutes of the clock, Tyler Herburger scoring on a 2-yard run.