Lonardo’s kick lifts Tigers past Faith

Craig Harper
Posted 9/6/12

Their football rivalry revived after a two-year hiatus, Faith Christian and Holy Family reminded their faithful what they had been missing in …

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Lonardo’s kick lifts Tigers past Faith


Their football rivalry revived after a two-year hiatus, Faith Christian and Holy Family reminded their faithful what they had been missing in Friday’s season opener.

And regardless of how many more games the schools play, the series renewal will be hard - if not impossible - to top.

Junior kicker Marco Lonardo atoned for missing a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter by connecting on a 24-yarder as time expired, sending visiting 3A Holy Family to a 27-24 victory over the 2A Eagles, ending the Tigers’ four-game winning streak in the series, dating to a 2005 2A semifinals matchup.

Holy Family junior quarterback David Sommers was in middle school the last time the teams played (2009, Faith’s unbeaten, 2A championship season), but said, “It’s always been one of my favorite games. They always bring it and make us play our `A’ game.’’

Except for Friday’s outcome, Faith coach Blair Hubbard said, “It’s good to have them back on our schedule. We’re there next year and I hope we play them every year.’’

Chalk up this one as Holy Family’s payback for a 28-27 Faith victory in 2007. The Tigers surprised Faith’s defense with an offensive scheme they had not seen in the teams’ exchange of scrimmage film a week earlier.

Said Hubbard: “They didn’t run any shotgun, they weren’t in a no-huddle, they weren’t in empty (no running backs) or trips’’ all of which the Tigers used exclusively. “Basically, their whole offense was something our kids hadn’t had a chance to prepare for, and I felt that we adjusted well.’’

The result: 404 yards rushing, including 283 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries by Jarred DeHerrera, the Tigers’ lone returning running back of note. Holy Family also decided to unleash Sommers, who rushed for 79 of his 95 yards in the fourth quarter. Sommers had runs of 29 and 20 yards after Faith tied the game 24-24 on Stefan Knoerr’s 27-yard field goal with 7:40 left, then had a touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty, leading to Lonardo’s miss from 36 yards out.

“The first game of the year, of course we want to win, but we want to keep some stuff for later,’’ said Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel. “But when you get in a situation like that, you do what you have to do to win.’’

Gabriel’s team rallied from deficits of 7-0 and 21-7, scoring 17 unanswered points in the final 1:33 of the first half, capped by Lonardo’s 29-yard field goal for a 24-21 lead as time expired.

Both teams were explosive early, Faith getting a 93-yard opening kickoff return from Tyler Tucker and the TD pass to Deven. DeHerrera broke a 72-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14 with 3:33 left in the first quarter, and each team turned a first-quarter turnover into a TD.

The second half was scoreless until Faith’s Stefan Knoerr knotted the contest on a 27-yard field goal with 7:40 left in the game.

Following Lonardo’s miss, Holy Family regained possession at its 24 after a 59-yard, bounding punt, and on the ensuing play DeHerrera broke free for a 59-yard run to the Faith 17. “My line set up a pretty good-sized hole,’’ DeHerrera said. “I ran into a linebacker, but he didn’t wrap me up and I bounced right off him. I wish I could’ve scored, but unfortunately they’ve got some pretty fast defensive backs.’’

Facing fourth-and-1 at the 8 on the right hashmark, the Tigers called their last timeout with 27.9 seconds left, and sent DeHerrera over left tackle for the first down at the 6.

Faith then called a timeout with 22.4 seconds left, enabling the Tigers to run Sommers for a yard to the middle of the field, then spike the ball with 4 seconds left, sending Lonardo back out for the game-winner.

“That was huge for him,’’ Gabriel said. “I pulled him aside after the miss and told him we were going to need him again. He put it right through the uprights.’’

DeHerrera was happy to see Faith back on Holy Family’s schedule for his senior season.

“We play them in every other sport every year, and we’re fortunate enough to play them in football this year,’’ he said. “They’re a great team. We’re just really fortunate to win.’’


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