Savio unable to contain Flyers
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Cameron Zafereo didn't know what to expect on homecoming night after missing St. Joseph's last two games with a knee injury.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Zafereo said after the game. "I knew I could run the ball."
The fans who filled up Patti Welder Stadium Friday night wouldn't have known it, though, as the junior running back ran for 218 yards on 16 rushes and three touchdowns as St. Joseph throttled Austin St. Dominic Savio 69-0.
"I feel happy with the win, but we still have a long ways to go," St. Joseph coach Kevin Auten said after he picked up his first win with the Flyers. "I knew we had the capability in us. I felt like this could happen, but you never know."
Zafereo ran for 145 yards in the first half alone, but scored two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter on runs of 17 and 19 yards that built the Flyers lead to 62-0. His first score came on the first play of the second quarter when he rumbled into the end zone on a four yard run.
Zafereo wasn't the only Flyer to put on a performance for the homecoming crowd. The Flyers' defense shut down Savio's offense and picked off the Eagles four times, twice returning the picks for touchdowns.
Marcus Rendon returned an interception 55 yards at the end of the first half, giving St. Joseph a 34-0 lead at halftime. Nick Vallejo had the other in the final minute of the game when he raced 85 yards down the sideline that accounted for the 69-0 final score.
"The defense played great," Auten said. "Scoring points offensively certainly helps their confidence on defense."
The Flyers also welcomed back quarterback Jerry Vasquez, among others, to the starting line up. Vasquez threw two touchdown passes and ran for another two in the rout over Savio.
"It felt great out here," Vasquez said. "It felt like a whole new team. We came out with a whole new intensity and just played hard."
Vasquez was the first Flyer to strike in their district opener when he snuck in from five yards away. Six minutes later, he would connect with senior Eric Alvarez for the first of two touchdowns, the first an 18 yarder that gave St. Joseph a 13-0 lead.
A mostly healthy line up for St. Joseph allowed the Flyers to flex their muscles against the Eagles, racking up 325 total yards of offense and only allowing 162 by Savio, 90 of which came from Sam Alvarado.
While the score is one-sided, the game didn't start out that way.
St. Joseph turned the ball over on its third play from scrimmage. It would be the first of five fumbles in the first half for the Flyers and the first of two for senior Eric Alvarez.
"We have to hold onto the ball. It was 69-0 with five fumbles," Auten said. "That's unacceptable."
Along with the opening drive fumble, St. Joseph would turn the ball over on an Alvarez fumble two possessions later. However, the senior would make good.
Along with countless hard hits and tackles on defense, Alvarez found a gap in the Eagles' defense in the end zone and gave Vasquez an easy touchdown pass.
Alvarez's biggest impact came in the third quarter when he caught his second touchdown pass of the night. He followed that up with an electrifying 83 yard punt return for a touchdown.
"He's always an impact player for us," Auten said. "Eric does a super job."
Alvarez would finish the night with 77 total yards and three touchdowns, including the punt return.
Vasquez ended his night with just four completions, but two of them ended up in the end zone. He also had three rushes for 22 and two scores.
"This is a big confidence boost," Vasquez said. "But we know we can't let up. We have to keep this rolling through district. Last year we had a big win and the next game wasn't good because we let it get to our heads."
St. Joseph returns to action next week when they host San Antonio Christian. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.