High School Football

Thunder fail to seize chances in loss to St. Mary’s

Buhach Colony senior running back Stephon Eastman follows senior lineman Justin Villanueva, blocking for him in the face of visiting St. Mary’s defenders on Friday. The powerhouse program from Stockton improved to 4-1 in a non-conference victory in Atwater.
Buhach Colony senior running back Stephon Eastman follows senior lineman Justin Villanueva, blocking for him in the face of visiting St. Mary’s defenders on Friday. The powerhouse program from Stockton improved to 4-1 in a non-conference victory in Atwater. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Time of possession can be one of football’s most misleading stats.

Buhach Colony High showed why in a 45-30 loss to St. Mary’s at Falcon Field on Friday night .

The Thunder executed their game plan to almost perfection, holding the ball for most of the first half, shortening the game and keeping the ball out St. Mary’s speedy skill players’ hands. The one thing Kevin Navarra’s squad failed to do was punch the ball in.

The Rams had no such issues.

Making the most of their 14 offensive plays in the opening half, St. Mary’s scored on three of its four possessions. It was the start of seven consecutive scoring drives as the visiting Rams led comfortably throughout.

“Those little details and mistakes that we’ve gotten away with early on in the season are going to be punished by a good team like St Mary’s,” Navarra said. “Whether it’s not finishing a drive or missing the last tackle, that can be the difference in the ball game.”

Things looked good early, as Buhach Colony (3-2) marched to the St. Mary’s 1-yard line on its opening drive. Things stalled there, however, and the Thunder opted for a field goal try. They never got it off as a high snap forced an attempted pass and a turnover on downs.

The Buhach defense responded when Hunter Stefani broke through the Ram offensive line and drilled Marcell Spady in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.

It was one of the few defensive bright spots for the Thunder as they couldn’t slow down the St. Mary’s attack after that.

The Rams (4-1) tallied 149 yards of total offense in the first half on a very efficient 14 plays. St. Mary’s scored on its next three possessions, including a 31-yard Noah Righetti hail mary with no time on the clock to take a 19-2 lead into intermission.

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The hole was a tough pill to swallow after BC drove into St. Mary’s territory in every first-half possession, but had nothing to show for it.

“It hurt because they went up big and we knew we left points on the field,” Roy Gutierrez said. “It was a quiet locker room at halftime. Everyone was trying to focus to back up.”

It didn’t help as St. Mary’s all but put the game away less than three minutes into the second half.

Spady ran for two touchdowns sandwiched around a Thunder fumble, pushing the SM lead to 32-2.

The BC offense did manage to get a rhythm going after the break, making the scoreline a little more respectable. Nathan Duran (9 of 12 for 175 yards) hit Brandon Sanchez with a 71-yard touchdown pass. Stephon Eastman added a 22-yard touchdown run and Justin Stefani (85 rushing yards, 88 receiving yards) tacked on two of his own scoring runs.

This story was originally published October 3, 2014 11:35 PM.

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