Sacred Heart Prep was dominant on defense and efficient on offense Saturday in a 27-7 win over Bellarmine in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division II football playoffs.
The No. 4 seed Gators (8-3) advance to play in the semifinals at No. 1 Los Gatos on Friday at 7 p.m.
SHP shut down the Bellarmine ground game throughout the contest and forced the Bells to go to the air. With their pass rush turned loose the Gators sacked the Bellarmine quarterback six times. And with all that sack yardage factored in the Bells had a net minus-6 yards rushing prior to their final possession when they rushed for 54 yards and scored a touchdown with 22.7 seconds left to avert the shutout.
“Our defense played outstanding, rose to the occasion,’’ SHP coach Mark Grieb said. “It’s always good to win a playoff game. It’s not easy. I thought we played real well today and deserved to win.’’
A key to the victory was serving a heavy dose of Tevita Moimoi. The senior standout had two sacks from his linebacker position. On offense he was the focal point of the SHP ground game, carrying 20 times for 84 hard-earned yards primarily on power runs up the middle against a stout Bellarmine run defense.
“With Tevita a 3-yard run becomes a 5-yard run,’’ Grieb said. “Or more.’’
Moimoi scored his 16th touchdown of the season and was able to get out in space on two pass receptions for another 38 yards.
“This week we had our best week of practice,’’ Moimoi said. “That’s why we shut down the run. For us seniors this is redemption for last year when we came up short. We want to give it our all.’’
Last year the Gators lost in the CCS Division III championship game to Aptos, 35-34.
Moimoi has received scholarship offers from a number of college football programs at mostly academic-oriented institutions.
“Harvard is a great school,’’ Moimoi said of one of the schools who have offered him. “I’ll make my decision after the season is over. I want to put all my focus on winning with my brothers.’’
The Gators were able to move the chains on the ground, but with not a lot to spare. Junior quarterback Teddy Purcell was able to take advantage of Bellarmine’s focus on containing the SHP ground game by completing 10 of 15 passes for 141 yards. His 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end J.P. Frimel with 4:58 left in the first quarter initiated the scoring.
Flyback Wilson Weisel scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter. Ronan Donnelly kicked three PATs and two field goals, from 42 and 27 yards out.
In addition to Moimoi’s two sacks, Thomas Hardy, Will Mackie, Cav Williams and Spencer Lee all got in on the sack parade. Williams and Everett Banks had interceptions.