St. Bernard came close to upsetting heavily favored Verbum Dei, No. 6 in the CIF Division VII football poll, at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Thurdsay night.
But despite playing the Camino Real League leader straight up into the fourth quarter, St. Bernard lost to the Eagles, 12-8.
The Vikings fell to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in league, while Verbum Dei improved to 5-2 and 2-0. Despite the hoopla surrounding Verbum Dei, Vikings Coach Duke Dulgarian was not surprised with his team’s performance.
“I think it will be a surprise to everyone else when they open the paper and see the score was, 12-8,” he said. “But I’m not surprised. We came into the game thinking we could beat them. Probably should have.”
The Eagles had their hands full with St. Bernard, which played them a little better than even the whole evening. Trailing, 8-6, Verbum Dei mounted an 11-play, 47-yard, fourth-quarter drive that finally put the pesky Vikings away.
Key plays in the winning drive were two fourth-and-one situations that Verbum Dei was able to convert. Quarterback Rico Martin scored the winning touchdown with a 6-yard run on a draw play with 8:47 left in the game. St. Bernard got the ball back in good field position three times in the fourth quarter but could not get the ball into the end zone.
Verbum Dei scored on its first possession of the game with a five-play, 50-yard drive that was set up by Gerald Billoups’ 45-yard kickoff return. Running back John Henry took over from there, moving the ball to the 17 on four consecutive carries. Martin capped the drive with a 20-yard scoring run, but Carlos Leon’s extra-point attempt was wide and the Eagles led, 6-0.
St. Bernard gave the ball right back to the Eagles when Michael Pollard jumped on a Terrill Steen fumble at the Vikings 43. Verbum Dei moved the ball to the 12 when Steen stepped in front of Martin’s pass and returned the ball 90 yards for a St. Bernard touchdown. Steen carried the ball into the end zone on the 2-point conversion to give the Vikings an 8-6 lead.