With standout halfback Alex Andrighetto unable to finish Friday’s game, the St. Francis High football team turned to Landon Baty – bad shoulder and all.
The senior played through the pain to rush for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in the Lancers’ 41-34 homecoming victory over Serra, previously undefeated in the West Catholic Athletic League.
“Alex and I have both been dealing with shoulders,” said Baty, who totaled 68 yards on 12 carries. “I wasn’t even supposed to be running the ball today, because I dislocated my shoulder in practice on Thursday, but I had to do it.”
When Andrighetto left the game midway through the third quarter – after rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown and making a 35-yard scoring catch – the leading Lancers were hesitant to replace him with Baty, already starting at defensive back. He didn’t carry the ball on that drive – which began at Serra’s 46 after St. Francis recovered a fumble and resulted in Will Fischer-Colbrie’s 3-yard TD toss to Trillion Hebert – or the next one.
But after Serra scored on consecutive possessions to take a 27-24 lead with 7:40 to play, coach Greg Calcagno called on Baty as the Lancers took over at their 20. He looked spry from his first try, spinning his way to a 7-yard gain up the middle, and had the Lancers at midfield three rushes later.
Fischer-Colbrie followed that with a 37-yard pass to receiver Brycen Carbonel, setting up Baty’s first score. On a burst right, he dodged defenders on a 13-yard run into the end zone. Patrick Fordham’s extra point pushed the St. Francis advantage to 31-27 with 5:13 left.
The Padres gave the ball back to the Lancers three plays later when defensive back Riley Quinn intercepted a pass at the Serra 25. Baty didn’t break loose this time, however, getting St. Francis to only the 21 after three straight carries. Fordham came on for the field-goal try, drilling a 39-yarder to extend the lead to 34-27 with 2:42 remaining.
The Lancer defense stymied Serra once again – not surrendering even a yard to the Padres on their next drive, which ended with a pass breakup on fourth down.
Taking over at Serra’s 15, St. Francis scored two plays later. Baty made a quick cut left and raced 10 yards for the touchdown, raising his arms in celebration as he stepped across the goal line.
“I told the offensive line, ‘You block for me and get my back, and I’ve got your back,’ and we just took it to them,” Baty said. “Running behind two 6 (foot)-6 guys (senior tackles Ryan Popolizio and Alessandro Lenarduzzi), it’s pretty easy to get into a nice little rhythm. Coach preaches just to run hard, downhill, and I found those creases.”
Down 41-27 after Fordham’s extra point, the Padres had only 2:04 to rally. They scored in under a minute – on Matthew Fa’aita’s 7-yard strike to Hamilton Anoa’i – but failed to recover the ensuing onside kick. St. Francis ran out the final 1:28.
The win keeps St. Francis, which suffered close league losses to Bellarmine and Mitty last month, in the conversation for a berth in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs.
“We deserved to win this game,” Baty said. “We should be 7-0 right now.”
Instead, the Lancers are 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the WCAL, tied with Bellarmine and Valley Christian for third place. St. Francis is scheduled to visit Valley Christian 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight and we’ve got homecoming tomorrow night,” Baty said, “but Monday it’s back to business and time to get ready for Valley.”
2013 football: St. Francis High School v. Serra High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier