ST. IGNATIUS — With 3:25 left in the third quarter, St. Ignatius two-way star Teddye Buchanan hobbled off the field. He was cramping.
The Wildcats had their revenge game against Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep seemingly well in hand, up by three scores. Without Buchanan on the field, Gonzaga Prep drove in for a touchdowb. One drive later, the Bullpups cut the lead to eight points.
A year after being sidelined with an ACL injury and a broken thumb that limited him to playing defense, Buchanan’s cramps were inconsequential in comparison. He returned in the middle of the fourth quarter to score his second rushing TD to put the game away. With a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive weapon and Buchanan back at full strength, the Wildcats sealed a 37-22 win, and look to be a team to reckon with in the WCAL.
“He does such an unbeleivable job of preparing himself,” head coach John Regalia said of Buchanan.
Buchanan — who has Division I offers from Colorado State, San Diego, San Jose State and UC Davis, among others — didn’t play in the 42-37 loss to the Bullpups last season, but he was on the sidelines. He’d gone down in the first week with an ACL sprain that cost him three weeks, but traveled with the team up to Washington.
“I saw how our team felt after that game, so we really wanted this one,” Buchanan said. “We went out and got it. It hurt, but we got our redemption this year.”
On Saturday, Buchanan went 10-for-11 passing on the day for 166 yards and three touchdown strikes, adding 51 yards on the ground, along with seven tackles and a sack, with five of those coming in the first quarter as the Wildcats set a physical tone early.
“Our scout team really did a great job of running their offense this week, and it looked the same in the game, so I was just there to make the play,” Buchanan said.
Each of Buchanan’s first four passes went for 20 or more yards, including touchdown passes of 30 and 34 yards to Danny Ryan and Joseph Celentano Jr. to pile up a quick 14-0 lead. Another 10-yard scoring toss to Ryan — who didn’t play last season due to injury — put St. Ignatius up 20-0 with 1:57 to go before the half.
Gonzaga Prep then ripped off a 24-yard kickoff return, and marched 66 yards downfield for a one-yard score by Jaden Ortega with 9:28 to go before the half to cut the lead to 20-7.
“More than in previous games, our run game was really there,” said Buchanan, whose team rushed for 145 yards, led by 44 from Matthew Silva. “We had a good balance of run and pass.”
With Zachary Taylor-Smith back of center, St. Ignatius turned to a more zone-read-style offense. With new offensive coordinator Mike Clark on board, plus a bevy of offensive weapons, St. Ignatius has one of the most versatile offenses in the City.
Taylor-Smith hit Ryan for an eight-yard gainer, then Celentano ripped off a nine-yard run, followed by a 16-yarder. On third-and-six at the Bullpups 20, Taylor-Smith rolled right and shoveled a desperatio pass to tight end James Adams, keeping the Wildcats in range for a Kealan O’Connell 37-yard field goal.
A pair of crowd-pleasing, teeth-rattling hits by Buchanan forced a Gonzaga Prep punt, but the ensuing drive ended with a Buchanan pick to end the half.
Siaki Gallegos-Hunkin —who had two tackles for loss, a sack and six tackles on the day — opened the second half with a sack, and Deven Enos recovered an Ortega fumble to give Buchanan a short field. Buchanan tore off a 12-yard run, then hit a screen to the left to Ryan for eight. Celentano looked to score on a two-down plunge, but was stopped a yard short. Buchanan took it the rest of the way to open up a 23-point lead.
On the ensuing drive, though, Buchanan went down with calf cramps on a 12-yard Ryan McKenna keeper, and two plays later, Robert Collier Jr. scored on a nine-yard run with three minutes to go in the quarter. After a missed St. ignatius field goal, the Bullpups got back on the board thanks to an 80-yard sideline score by McKenna, who then hit a two-point conversion pass to Chase Becker, cutting the lead to 30-22.
“They run the football, and they’re very good at it,” Regalia said. “We know that. I thought our defense, overall, really set the tone early, and they come back a little bit there, and we expect that, too. Teddye, Siaki and Jacob Snipes, those guys physically set the tone, and Deven Enos.”
Four plays and two holding calls later, the Bullpups got away with a roughing the kicker non-call, but a holding flag allowed St. Ignatius to re-kick, and on that try, the Wildcats got their roughing-the-punter penalty, allowing Buchanan to re-enter and work his magic. he hit a five-yard pass, then gained three and five on a pair of rushes, before finding Ryan (who had seven catches for 100 yards and two scores) on a 12-yard hook-up. Silva ran for six yards, and Buchanan ran over right guard for a three-yard score with 4:19 to go.
“That was huge,” Buchanan said. “They got it within eight, so it was really important that we got it to within a two-score game.”
Gonzaga Prep’s final drive ended in an Enos interception, sending the Hawaiian-shirt-clad Red Sea student section into a frenzy. The Wildcats won all of three games last season, and eight of the teams that dealt them losses in 2018 are on the schedule for 2019. Saturday was their second revenge win, and marked the first time since 2016 that they’ve been 2-1.