If Seton was expecting to knock Coolidge from the ranks of the unbeaten, it might want to forget the first 10 minutes of Friday’s Division IV matchup.
With 2:18 left in the opening quarter, Coolidge (6-1) had easily driven down the field for touchdowns and led 14-0. The doubts had to be near the surface.
“After the first 10 minutes it was kind of scary because we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” said Brandon Garcia, whose 24-yard interception return for a touchdown tied the game at 14 in the second quarter but more importantly gave the Seton sideline renewed hope.
It led to 30 unanswered points and the win the Sentinels were looking for.
“Our offense and defense just started clicking,” said Seton quarterback Kyle Johnson, who threw four touchdown passes. “We were waiting for it all game because at the beginning we knew that wasn’t Sentinel football we were playing.”
Fourth-ranked Seton (6-1) struck back, used a short field for their first score, a pick six and then another interception led to a score. By halftime, Seton had a 30-14 lead and held on for a 43-28 victory on Friday for its fourth straight win since a tough 28-23 loss to Snowflake on Sept. 13.
Garcia said, “It was like in the Snowflake game, we got down, it wasn’t looking good, got back up at half and we had the lead and in the second half just didn’t perform. After the first quarter, we knew if we didn’t execute, it wasn’t going to work out."
With the momentum, Garcia picked off another pass by Coolidge’s Chris Romero that led to a field goal. But then the defense held Coolidge on a three-and-out and on the next play from scrimmage, Johnson hit Antonio Campanella on a 51-yard catch-and-run that put Seton firmly in the driver’s seat. A couple of possessions later, Johnson had the ball at midfield and needed just three plays, the capper a 15-yard timing route catch to P.J. Del Rio with 13 seconds left before halftime.
“This is huge win for playoff standings and all of that,” said Johnson. ”We came together as a team, it was a great win.”
Johnson was 9-of-18 for 228 yards on the night. Antonio Campanella had 131 yards on the ground and Seton kept Coolidge from regaining momentum. Playing catch-up in the second half, Coolidge was at a disadvantage as a running team, but needing to throw the ball.
After falling behind by two touchdowns, the Sentinel defense held the Bears to 12 total yards for the rest of the first half.
“The ship was getting a bit rocky there,” Seton coach Rex Bowser said. “The defense made great recovery, they really stepped up and our offense put up a lot of points and totally turned the game around.”
Coolidge regrouped a bit, scoring twice in the third quarter to cut the lead to 37-28 with 2:54 left in the third. With Johnson shaken up by a hit earlier in the period, Zach Wade filled in admirably. He threw a touchdown pass to Niko Villegas the first time he touched the ball and then took some time off the clock with a drive.
The Bears drove to the Seton 34 midway through the fourth quarter but Romero threw an interception to Dominic Johnson deep in Sentinel territory and Seton held on.
Seton 43, Coolidge 28
Seton 0 30 7 6 - 43
Coolidge 14 0 14 0 - 28
C-Ellis 21 run (Guzman kick)
C-McCarty 5 run (Guzman kick)
S-Villegas 18 pass from Johnson (Johnson kick)
S-Garcia 24 interception return (Johnson kick)
S-Johnson 23 FG
S-Campanella 51 pass from Johnson (Johnson kick)
S-Del Rio 15 pass from Johnson (kick failed)
C-Ellis 43 pass from Romero (Ellis pass from Romero)
S-Villegas 33 pass from Wade (Johnson kick)
C-Romero 1 run (pass failed)
S-Wolter 47 pass from Johnson (kick failed)
First Downs: Coolidge 17, Seton 12
Rushing: Coolidge 50-226, Seton 18-104
Passing yards: Coolidge 102, Seton 275
Passing: Coolidge 10-16-3, Seton 13-25-0
Fumbles-Lost: Coolidge 1-0, Seton 1-0
Penalties: Coolidge 8-50, Seton 4-37