by Ethan Kassel
ATHERTON, Calif. — For all but one drive, Saturday’s clash between the Sacred Heart Prep Gators and Burlingame Panthers was just like any other game between the two teams, a gritty affair in which the ball only moved a few yards at a time.
It was the one drive that didn’t fit the narrative that defined the entire game.
After receiving the kickoff to start the third quarter, the host Gators managed to overcome three lengthy penalties, convert four third downs and a fourth down and ultimately find the end zone to provide the final margin in a 17-0 victory over the Panthers.
With their work finally completed, Sacred Heart Prep (2-0, 1-0 PAL Bay) had overcome two holding calls and an offensive pass interference to gain 121 scrimmage yards, just two fewer than the Gator defense would allow all game, and erase nine minutes and 18 seconds off the clock in a trek down the field that was unlike any that head coach Mark Grieb had ever seen before.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a drive quite like that before,” the longtime San Jose SaberCats quarterback said.
The drive looked to be over quickly as a holding flag not only wiped out what would have been a 58-yard touchdown for Beck Anderson but pushed the Gators all the way back to a first-and-26.
Undeterred, Teddy Purcell found hulking tight end Will Mackie for a 10-yard gain, then hit William Van Dyke for a pickup of 15. Sophomore running back Andrew Latu gained eight to move the chains, but the cycle repeated itself as an offensive pass interference flag wiped out a long completion to Cav Williams.
That turned into a second-and-36 as Sohail Erekat tackled Latu for a loss and a holding flag wiped out another pickup by Williams, and after a completion to Paul Barton gained seven, the Gators made their most improbable play of the day, a long completion to the left sideline to Williams to convert the third-and-29 and completely demoralize the Panther defense.
The flags were done flying at this point, but Burlingame (0-2, 0-2) had one last chance to get a stop with fourth-and-5 at the 20. SHP’s offense stayed on the field and Purcell found a wide-open Barton at the front of the end zone for the score that all but sealed the game.
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