A rematch of last season's Central Coast Section Open Division III championship game evoked the kind of emotions more closely associated with late fall high school football than the exhibition feel of a typical Week 2 game.
Unfortunately for Sacred Heart Prep, it didn't produce the same results, as Riordan of San Francisco exacted a measure of revenge with a 19-3 victory over the Gators at City College of San Francisco's George M. Rush Stadium.
"It was an intense game," SHP coach Pete Lavorato said. "Both of us had lost our first game so we wanted to get a win ... there's some history from last year of course."
The "history" isn't the kind that's easy to forget with the Gators winning their fourth straight CCS championship on a flea-flicker in the final minute.
"There definitely was," SHP quarterback Thomas Wine said when asked if the atmosphere felt a little bit more intense than an ordinary nonleague game. "Riordan plays really hard, we knew that coming in, and I'm really proud of how our team did, especially on defense. We came out and we hit hard. Hats off to Riordan. They played a really good game."
The Gators (0-2) may have matched their opponent's intensity, but they didn't match their execution, and after a dominant first half on the defensive side, they couldn't get their offense in synch.
It wasn't until the final 30 seconds of the first half that Riordan (1-1) even set foot in the red zone.
The Crusaders scored on a 16-yard pass play in the closing seconds to take a 6-3 lead into the intermission.
Peter Larson's 24-yard field goal with under two minutes left in the half gave the Gators an early lead.
"It just seemed like were like an engine that kept missing," Lavorato said. "We'd be OK, and then something would happen. We'd either miss a blocking assignment or we'd drop a pass or whatever, something would happen. We just couldn't get drives going to the end zone."
Isaiah Broughton rushed for 70 yards on 17 carries, but the Gators managed just 89 rushing yards and 207 yards of total offense.
Riordan was led by junior Garrison Howe, who rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries in his high school debut and in his first game at running back at any level.
It didn't help matters for SHP that running back Isoa Moimoi was out for a second week with a hamstring injury. Moimoi rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. His status for next week's game against Palma of Salinas wasn't known, Lavorato said.
Wine was 6-for-16 passing for 118 yards, numbers that didn't reflect his proficiency with at least half his incomplete were drops.
"It's high school football so you've really just got to have a short memory," Wine said. "I'm going to throw bad passes and they're going to drop passes. Things happen and it's never useful to dwell on the dropped passes or the bad passes or the interceptions."
Dominic Cacchione made a great catch for the Gators, splitting two defenders to pull down a pass from Wine just past midfield and taking the ball down to the Riordan 10 for a 67-yard play that set up Larson's field goal.
But other than that, it was a bad day for the Gators' receiving corps.
"The chemistry will come, the receptions will come and the touchdowns will come," Wine said. "I feel right now it's just about keeping our heads up and trusting each other, I think we'll be good in the future. We have a mutual belief in each other that can help us overcome the dropped passes and the losses and all that stuff. Going forward it's just about trust. I trust them and I know they trust me."