The St. Mary’s Panthers played 42 minutes of pretty good football on Friday, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for six minutes of horrible football.
Bishop O’Dowd High scored 28 points in six minutes during the second quarter that propelled the Dragons to a 28-13 win in Berkeley. Quarterback Danny Brethauer threw consecutive touchdown passes of 22 and 30 yards and running backs Tyson Butler and Zach Walker each ran for a score during the rally.
“We really self-destructed for those eight or nine minutes,” St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson said. “I though we regrouped pretty well after that, but you can’t take those minutes away.”
St. Mary’s actually got out to a strong start, stuffing the Dragons on two straight runs to get possession on downs near midfield and scoring on a Fred Hives plunge from the 1. But after the teams traded punts, the Dragons started gaining yards in big chunks. Walker ran outside for gains of 17 and 13 and Brethauer started to find his rhythm.
On a 4th-and-11 from the St. Mary’s 22-yard line, Brethauer dropped back and scrambled to his right away from pressure. After a few seconds, the senior signal-caller found Drew Glover in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“Danny made a great play on the first touchdown,” O’Dowd head coach Paul Perenon said. “The protection broke down and he bought himself some time. That wasn’t where the play was supposed to go, but he made something out of it.”
The Panthers went three-and-out on the ensuing series, and punter Jason Haller’s kick went just five yards to the 30-yard line. Brethauer immediately hit Jordan Murchison on a fade pattern for another touchdown, giving O’Dowd a 14-7 lead.
Hives, who had 94 yards on 22 carries in his debut as starting tailback, coughed up the ball two plays into the next drive with the Dragons recovering on the Panthers’ 26. Butler scored on a nine-yard run moments later. Then it was St. Mary’s quarterback Steve Murphy’s turn to fumble, and O’Dowd’s Shea McIntyre picked up the ball and ran out at the 27-yard line. On the next play Walker cut a run back inside and scored through the Panthers’ defense.
“We just made a lot of mental errors in the second quarter,” Murphy said. “I made one myself when I fumbled the ball away.”
That was all the scoring until St. Mary’s scored a consolation touchdown on a pass from sophomore Scott Tully, who played most of the second half, to wide receiver Will Reid for a 28-yard touchdown.
Tully was 6-for-14 passing for 105 yards in his first varsity action, while Murphy threw for just 58 yards before shifting to running back. But while Tully is taller and has a stronger arm than Murphy, the sophomore also looked anxious at times, overthrowing receivers and misreading their cuts. Don’t expect a quarterback controversy to arise, at least not yet.
“I liked the way (Tully) stood in there and threw the ball,” Lawson said. “But he also made some mistakes. We just needed to do something to get things going, and Scott did that a little bit.”
The Panthers have several issues to work out before next week’s game. One is protecting Murphy from pass-rushers, as the quarterback was harassed every time he dropped back to pass. He was only sacked once officially, but he was forced to scramble most of the time and even escaped one sack by pitching the ball to Hives at the last second for a short gain. Murphy is mobile but undersized, and throwing while being chased isn’t his strong suit.
St. Mary’s will also have to do some serious work on special teams. Haller’s first three punts went a total of 21 yards, and his best effort of the day, a 34-yarder, was returned 26 yards by O’Dowd. Jon Taranto was the punter before going down for the year with a knee injury, and the St. Mary’s coaches are hesitant to use tight end Nick Osborn, who is a soccer goalkeeper, due to ankle injuries. Also, one of Brendan Slevin’s extra-point attempts was blocked.
The Panthers will try to address their problems before facing El Cerrito next week. Murphy finished his postgame interview on a determined note.
“This game isn’t our whole season. I wanted to win it, for sure, but it’s over,” he said. “We have to concentrate on beating El Cerrito next week. A 9-1 season wouldn’t be so bad.”