Oceanside defender Roman Roberson upends St. Augustine's Tariq Thompson.
OCEANSIDE — The season couldn’t have started worse for Oceanside.
Quarterback Matt Romero fumbled the first snap of the game, and St. Augustine’s Andrew Seelert recovered.
Two plays later, 57 seconds into the game, Elijah Preston of the Saints was standing in the end zone after a 25-yard scoring run.
But Oceanside righted itself, then overcame a furious Saints rally in a 34-28 win.
The No. 2-ranked Pirates led 21-7 at halftime, but No. 5 St. Augustine tied it at 21 with 6:11 to play in the third quarter.
Oceanside regained the lead, capitalizing on Jordan Miller’s second interception of the game. Josh Bernard covered the final 4 yards on a four-play drive that put the Pirates ahead 28-21 with 4:03 to play in the third quarter.
The Pirates appeared to take control again when Jamie Harris’ fumble recovery was turned into a 16-yard touchdown pass from Romero to Isaiah Paopao late in the third.
The Saints, however, weren’t done, scoring on a pair of 34-yard runs, by Preston and backup QB Rodney Thompson, the latter with 5:17 left in the game.
The Saints had two chances in the dying minutes, but an interception by Malavai Taylor thwarted one with 3:07 to play.
Then, with 1:10 remaining, Thompson’s fourth-down throw from the Oceanside 30-yard line fell incomplete in the end zone.
Preston rushed 22 times for 182 yards for the Saints.
For the Pirates, Romero completed 17-of-35 passes for 278 yards and three TDs. Johnny Arzola caught eight passes for 130 yards and rushed seven times for 71 yards. Josh Bernard rushed 15 times for 98 yards.
St. Augustine turned the ball over five times, losing two fumbles and throwing three interceptions.
With Oceanside trailing 7-0, Nikko Mageo capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run near the end of the first quarter.
A Miller interception halted the next Saints drive, and Oceanside punter Caleb Ramirez averted disaster when he fielded a wild snap and got off an 18-yard punt instead of a taking a 25-yard loss.
Oceanside forced the Saints to punt, and Romero found Davione Taylor with a 28-yard scoring pass to cap a 10-play, 86-yard drive.
A Josh Bernard fumble recovery set the Pirates up at their 31 with 1:33 to play in the half. Romero drove his team 69 yards in 74 seconds, with Arzola scampering 22 yards into the end zone.