Early on, it looked as if St. Augustine High was going to be the victim of a numbers game when it hosted Southern Section power Vista Murrieta on Friday night at San Diego Mesa College’s Merrill Douglas Stadium.
The Broncos suited out 98 players compared to the Saints’ 37 players and it appeared the San Diego Section’s No. 3-ranked team was going to simply find itself overwhelmed when the Broncos jumped out to a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and looked dominant doing it.
But St. Augustine, sparked by Darrell Broussard’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 3:19 left in the third period, eventually got back to within three points twice and scored after a late onside kick before the Broncos (4-1) finally escaped with a wild 36-34 victory.
Jacob Baker scored on a 41-yard pass play from Rodney Thompson, but the extra point that would have tied it was fumbled.
Isaac Taylor’s interception halted one Vista Murrieta drive and a third-down sack by Francoise Sims cost the Broncos another shot at a TD and forced them to settle for a 38-yard Cane Page field goal that preceded Broussard’s return.
After Murrieta Vista stretched its lead to 24-14, Elija Preston’s 4-yard touchdown run brought the Saints back within three again at 24-21.
But the Broncos scored two more touchdowns to lead 36-21.
Tariq Thompson’s second TD, on a 13-yard run with 1 minute left, got St. Augustine within eight points and the Saints then recovered an onside kick for the first time.
St. Augustine (4-2) closed the early gap to 14-7 at the half as Preston and Broussard combined for 123 first-half rushing yards and the Saints got in the end zone just before intermission on a 16-yard pass play from Rodney Thompson to Tariq Thompson.
Vista Murrieta struck first four minutes into the game when Cole Dubots, who the Saints couldn’t contain in the first quarter, circled left end and raced untouched 56 yards into the end zone to put the Broncos in front 7-0.
Quarterback Carson Greeley made it 14-0 with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Long.
But then the Saints suddenly awakened.
Jordan Brooks, Quinn Seau and Thompson made big second-quarter defensive plays, the biggest coming when Brooks intercepted a pass at the St. Augustine 5.
Saxe is a freelance writer.