For the second straight season, St. Stanislaus delivered defensively in the fourth quarter to turn back upset-minded Long Beach.
Trailing 24-22 in the fourth quarter, SSC stopped Long Beach at its own 40 Friday night, then drove 60 yards for the go-ahead score in a 37-24 victory at St. Stanislaus Stadium.
The Rockachaws, No. 1 in the Sun Herald rankings, improved to 3-0 while Long Beach fell to 0-3.
In 2015, Darius Pittman’s interception return for a TD averted an upset at Long Beach.
“They had to make a stop,” St. Stanislaus coach Bill Conides said. “I told them, ‘If you make a stop, we will win this game.’ And they did. That goes back to the grit I was talking about.”
After stopping freshman quarterback Cade Crosby on fourth-and 2 just short of the 40, SSC went 60 yards in six plays. The key play was a 41-yard pass from Myles Brennan to Corbin Blanchard, with Blanchard breaking several tackles to take the ball to the 9. Two plays later, Brennan scored on a 4-yard run with 4:05 left. Then Brendan Logan picked off a Jaidon Evans pass and raced 39 yards to ice the game with 1:43 left.
“I really wish they had measured right there — I thought we ran a pretty good play and I felt our quarterback was across the line and had a first down — but again I couldn’t be prouder of the effort of all our guys,” Long Beach coach Forrest Williams said of the key defensive stop. “We stuck to the gameplan and made them work for it.”
Blanchard caught 7 passes for 237 yards while Brennan completed 13 of 27 passes for 352 yards against a stout Bearcat defense.
“We didn’t want to be trailing there but we pushed through,” Blanchard said. “We were gassed but we found it deep down and pushed. I just wanted to find the end zone (on the 41-yard catch and run).’’
Long Beach led 18-14 at halftime behind a 1-yard TD run by Crosby, a 69-yard scoring run by Jaylen Bankston and a 6-yard TD run by Crosby. SSC countered with a 7-yard TD run by Brennan and a 70-yard TD pass from Brennan to Blanchard.
Long Beach upped its lead to 24-14 with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Crosby. But SSC immediately answered three plays later on 30-yard TD strike from Brennan to Blanchard with 8:03 left.
Undeterred, Long Beach started another drive before the defensive stand at the 40.
Bankston rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries while Crosby ran for 75 yards on 23 carries. He also completed 9 of 13 passes for 92 yards with 1 interception.
It was SSC’s sixth straight win over Long Beach in this series. Long Beach’ last win over SSC came in 2006.
“Our first-half performance was just bad preparation on our part,’’ Conides said. “If we want to be a champion, we can’t do that ever. They played Cover Zero (defense) and brought a lot of pressure. We have to get up tomorrow morning and get ready for Brother Martin.”
Williams liked his team’s effort on the road.
“Offensively, they (SSC) are one of the best teams in the state,” Williams said. “They have four Division I players and you do the best you can and try to contain them.
“Offensively, our guys played great. Jaylen Bankston and Dennis Andrews ran the ball hard and Cade Crosby gave all he had. He was running out of gas and Jaidon (Evans) came in and gave us a good spell. The offensive line was fantastic. I thought we had a good matchup with our DBs, and I was proud of our guys.”
SSC travels to Brother Martin of New Orleans next week while Long Beach travels to Vancleave.