It was a tale of two halves when the Bellarmine-Jefferson High
football team hosted Panorama City St. Genevieve in a pivotal Santa
Fe League game.
With a guaranteed CIF Southern Section Division XII berth on the
line, and despite holding a 15-point lead midway through the third
quarter, Bell-Jeff could not halt a strong surge by the visiting
Valiants in the second half Wednesday, as the Guards fell, 25-22, at
It was Bell-Jeff’s third straight league loss. The team’s only
league win came in the Guards’ opener against L.A. Daniel Murphy,
St. Genevieve put the winning points on the board in fourth
quarter with a 26-yard field goal by Christian Garcia, and had to
hold off late Guard drives to secure the thrilling victory.
The Valiants’ (4-5-1, 2-2 in league) victory earned them a
third-place finish in league and an automatic spot in the playoffs --
which begin Friday.
With the loss, the Guards’ (7-3, 1-3) postseason hopes remain in
the hands of the playoff selection committee, as the team has to wait
and see if it gets an at-large bid.
Bell-Jeff is banking that its strong start (it began the season
7-0) will earn it a trip to the postseason.
“I don’t know what happened, we just didn’t execute in the second
half like we did in the first,” Guard Coach Rolando Aguirre said.
The Guards could not find a solution for elusive Valiant running
back John Ramos, who rushed for 202 yards in 26 carries.
Ramos had touchdown runs of 33 and 8 yards.
“The extraordinary effort that that man [Ramos] put out tonight
was incredible,” St. Genevieve Coach Shatony Sargeant said. “If it
wasn’t for him, we’d be home during the playoffs.”
Penalties, and maybe a bit of arrogance, nearly cost the Valiants,
who almost let the Guards battle back to win the game in the closing
Bell-Jeff’s fourth-quarter drive started at its own 20-yard line,
as senior quarterback Brendon Doyle had 2:10 left to move his team
down the field.
After a series of incomplete passes, Doyle connected with teammate
Derek Leiphardt for an apparent crucial fourth-down conversion.
However, Leiphardt fumbled the ball following the reception, and
Valiant linebacker Ardel Ayala recovered it on the Guard 34.
Instead of trying to score on the short field, the Valiants
decided to run out the clock out and waste time, as their quarterback
kneeled down on consecutive plays.
But St. Genevieve was called for delay-of-game- penalties, which
stopped the game clock. Eventually, the Valiants were forced to punt
the ball with 22 seconds left.
Leiphardt returned the punt into Valiant territory, but his effort
was called back because of a holding penalty.
On the Guards’ first-down play, Doyle connected with Joey Diaz,
who lateraled the ball to Matt Magallon for a 23-yard gain.
With the ball on the Valiant 43-yard line, Doyle threw a
desperation pass toward the end zone, but it was intercepted by Larry
Fitzgerald as time expired.
Doyle completed 13 of 29 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown.