- Published on Tuesday, 31 October 1995 19:20
- Written by Craig Wentz - Special to the Town Crier
Whenever St. Francis and Bellarmine meet on the gridiron, you can pretty much expect a low-scoring affair with plenty at stake between the two teams that get along as well as Republicans and Democrats.
Last Friday night was no exception, as a crowd of 8,000 fans filled Fisher Field to celebrate St. Francis' 40th anniversary and witness the top two teams in the Central Coast Section do battle for control of the West Catholic Athletic League.
Executing an eight-minute scoring drive in the second half, Bellarmine squeezed out a memorable 14-7 win over St. Francis to the end the Lancers' 23-game WCAL win streak and in all probability give the Bells the league title.
Bellarmine's ability to contain the Lancers' potent running attack with various defensive schemes propelled the Bells to its first victory over St. Francis since 1991.
St. Francis (3-1 league, 7-2 overall) opened the game in impressive fashion by marching 52 yards in nine plays, culminating on quarterback John Gall's 1-yard touchdown sneak for a 7-0 lead with 4:10 left in the first quarter. Charles Tharp gained 43 yards on the drive with four carries.
Bellarmine (3-0, 7-0) countered on its second possession to tie the game at 7-7. The 72-yard drive featured a 41-yard pass completion and ended on a Tim Foley 2-yard plunge with 11:06 remaining in the half.
Despite a 7-7 halftime score, the Lancers did not attempt a pass in the first half and were held to just 16 yards in 10 plays following their opening scoring drive.
With the Lancers struggling offensively, Bellarmine put together a series of plays in the second half that may forever be known to Bells fans as "The March."
The Bells took their second possession of the half and marched 81 yards in 15 plays - consuming a whopping 7:52 - to take a 14-7 lead on Blake Elliott's 1-yard run with 10:54 remaining in the game.
Bellarmine converted three third-down attempts on the drive with a variety of runs and short to medium passes.
St. Francis' final opportunity to pull even began at its own 3-yard line with 2:39 to play.
The Lancers converted a crucial third and 15 when Gall connected with Tharp for 32 yards to their 40 with a minute left. Following a 17-yard run by Gall and a 3-yard completion to Tim Cross, St. Francis called a timeout with 33 seconds remaining and the ball at the Bells' 40.
With the capacity crowd on its feet, Gall again hooked up with Tharp for a 24-yard gain. But Tharp was stripped of the ball at the Bellarmine 16-yard line, and the Bells recovered the loose ball to preserve victory.
Bellarmine outgained the Lancers in total yards 242-167. Tharp led the Lancers with 65 yards rushing on 11 carries; Gall completed four of seven passes for 66 yards.
There is a good chance St. Francis and Bellarmine will meet again in the CCS playoffs, where they have met seven times since 1979 with the Lancers winning four.
Bellarmine............0 7 0 7 - 14
St. Francis.............7 0 0 0 - 7
SF - Gall 1 run (Beall kick)
B - Foley 2 run (Hege kick)
B - Elliott 1 run (Hege kick)
Attendance - 8,000.