One could say the game started on a sour note. And so did the Crespi High offense.
Serenaded by an a capella rendition of the National Anthem by a trio of Crespi cheerleaders to open the game Friday night--harmony shifted in and out of gear with each passing stanza--the Celts followed suit with an opening that brought the curtain down on themselves.
Or spelled curtains, take your pick. Either way, Crespi brought the house down, right on top of its collective head.
Crespi stumbled from the opening whistle and fell to St. John Bosco, 30-9, in a nonleague game at Pierce College.
How sour was the opening? Crespi was hit with a face-mask penalty on the opening kickoff. Two plays later, St. John Bosco tailback Derek Ayers broke loose for a 46-yard touchdown.
Crespi (1-1) was equally magnanimous on offense. Quarterback Cody Smith fumbled the snap on the first play from scrimmage but recovered the ball himself. It was the first of five Crespi fumbles in the first half, four of which came on bobbled exchanges from center.
"The snaps got us out of sync," Crespi Coach Tim Lins said. "It took us right out of our rhythm."
And it got worse. On Crespi's second play, sophomore fullback Deron McElroy fumbled a swing pass in front of the Crespi bench. The ball was recovered by St. John Bosco at the Crespi 26-yard line and the Braves converted it into a field goal and a 10-0 lead with 5 minutes 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
The game essentially ended before Lins could say, a-one, and a-two . . .
"It was over when it was 10-0," Lins said. "That was enough tonight."
Lins had enough of the turnovers. Crespi committed six fumbles and lost three. Smith, who completed 12 of 24 passes for 108 yards, threw two interceptions and worked with two different centers as Crespi attempted to iron out its iron-handed ways.
"Last week we could do no wrong," Smith said. "This week we could do no right. You figure it out."
Second verse, same as the first.
The third quarter started with a thud when St. John Bosco tailback Jared Lucero, filling in for an injured Ayers, took a handoff and raced 76 yards for a touchdown on the Braves' first play of the second half. It gave the Braves (1-1) a commanding 27-3 lead.
Lucero finished with 115 yards in seven carries and Ayers--who returned to the game midway through the third quarter--added 148 in 16 carries.
Crespi scored its lone touchdown in the third quarter when Smith connected with Joe Ruggiero on a 30-yard pass to cut the lead to 27-9 with 6:18 left in the period.
After the Crespi defense held, a 35-yard punt return by Crespi's Eric Cuaresma gave the Celts possession at the Braves' 31. A holding penalty and an incomplete pass on fourth down snuffed the scoring threat and any shot at a Crespi comeback, however.
"We did a lot of things wrong," Lins said. "A lot of different people made mistakes."
And repeatedly at that.
Before the first half was completed, the Celts trailed, 20-3, and had fumbled five times, losing two. Smith was sacked four times as Crespi stumbled to 17 net yards; St. John Bosco, behind 104 yards from Ayers, piled up 121 in the first half.
Crespi tailback Torie Lee was held to 61 yards in 11 carries, mainly because the game was so lopsided so fast.
"It got to a point where we could have probably run the ball effectively in the second half,' Lins said, looking for a silver lining. "But there was no time."
St. John Bosco rolled up 385 yards to 159 for Crespi.
St. John Bosco kicker David Harlow single-footedly outscored Crespi with three field goals and three point-after kicks.