When the Saints came marching in, their heads were high and a little inflated. Four quarters later, they scurried off the field with their egos tempered and their tails between their legs.
St. Augustine (2-0) managed to escape with a 3-0 victory over host Mission Bay (0-2) in a nonleague game Friday afternoon, but not before trying repeatedly to self destruct.
Three times St. Augustine was in scoring position. A dropped pass brought one of the drives to a screeching halt; a missed block stalled another. On a third, the Saints had to settle for a field goal, a 27-yarder by Mike Bryant in the second quarter, which proved to be the game's lone score.
"We still have a lot of work to do," St. Augustine Coach Marty Martin said before giving his team a verbal spanking. "It's a win, and that's what counts, but we underestimated (Mission Bay) a little after last week. We didn't come ready to play."
Mission Bay went 8-2 last year but was gutted by graduation and opened its season with a 21-6 loss to El Cajon last week. That combination failed to instill the proper amount of fear into St. Augustine, which was ranked high in some preseason polls and is favored to win the Harbor League.
John Mozerka, St. Augustine running back, said his team lost its focus with all the happy talk.
"It got to our heads," he said. "Luckily we didn't lose. Next week will be a different story. We won't let down."
Said Martin: "They think because they did it one week, they can do it the next, and that's not so."
So which are the real Saints? Last week's version, which thumped Serra, 28-6, or Friday's club, which squeaked by, 3-0?
Neither, according to Mozerka, who rushed 18 times for 97 yards.
"Last week we didn't play that well either," he said.
St. Augustine could certainly improve on its goal-line offense. Midway through the third quarter, with Mozerka and Michael Greer piling up rushing yards, the Saints drove from their own 20 to the Mission Bay 7, where they had first and goal. On fourth down, quarterback Marco Cabanillas handed off to Greer, who went straight up the middle, but officials ruled that he didn't cross the line.
"Michael's got to get it done for us," Martin said. "He's the toughest runner we had last year, and if he can't get it done . . . Of course, we needed better blocking."
Mission Bay missed it's chance to tie the score in the third quarter when Steve Vincent's 30-yard field goal attempt sailed low.
Mission Bay's Marlon Gardinera led all rushers with 99 yards on 17 carries, and the Buccaneers outgained St. Augustine on the ground, 120 yards to 115.
Cabanillas completed six of 17 passes for 107 yards, while the Bucs' Andy Guyader was 10 of 25 for 88 yards.