By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
KENTFIELD — Marin Catholic scored four unanswered touchdowns to overcome a double-digit Cardinal Newman second-half lead and went on to defeat the Cardinals, 42-37, in a North Coast Section Division 3 semifinal game Saturday.
Newman took advantage of turnovers by the Wildcats to grab a 17-0 lead at the end of one quarter and held a 31-14 advantage with 8:46 to go in the third quarter.
From that point, it was all Marin Catholic. The home team got its first lead, 35-31, with 4:15 left in the game and then applied the clincher 17 seconds later when, following an interception, running back Akili Terry scored from 15 yards out.
The Cardinals got it back to 42-37 with 37 seconds remaining, but the Wildcats covered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The win earns No. 2 Marin Catholic a ticket to the title game Saturday at Pinole High against top-seed El Cerrito.
The Gauchos defeated Analy, 40-20, to get to the title game.
The match-up between the two Catholic schools, meeting for the first time in more than a decade, brought out a standing-room only crowd. Those who couldn’t find seats lined the fence that surrounded the field.
They witnessed a classic football game.
The Newman defense put in several new defensive schemes and the looks had the desired effect. On their first five plays, Marin had two passes intercepted and committed a fumble.
“They (Newman) came out with different looks than I was expecting,” said Wildcats quarterback Jared Goff. “I was thinking too much when I threw those interceptions.”
Goff, who will be going to Cal on a football scholarship next fall, finished the day with 18 completions including a pair of touchdown passes. He also got the TD that put his team up for the first time. That was on a 17-yard run.
“The turning point for us was when we scored right before the half,” Goff said. “We started thinking we can come back. When we had to do it, we did it. Credit to Newman, they played a great game.”
It was also late in the second quarter when Newman two-way star Philip (Scoobie) Wright went down with a leg injury. He didn’t play in the second half.
On offense, Wright is among his team’s rushing and receiving stats leaders. Playing linebacker, he’s one of the team leaders in tackles.
“I can’t put any weight on the leg,” said Wright, who has committed to the University of Arizona. “Before the injury, Wright had caught a touchdown pass.
With Wright out of the game, the Marin defense keyed on Kenny Carter, the other starting running back.
He gained just over four yards per touch, well under his average. The senior scored twice, once before Wright left the game and once early in the third quarter.
The Wildcats shredded the Newman defense in the fourth quarter. It took them two plays to go 58 yards for the go-ahead TD and one play to gain the 15 yards needed for their final score.
“We missed having Scoobie,” Newman coach Paul Cronin said. “We felt to beat Marin Catholic we needed to get up early, which we did. We knew they would come back because they’re too good a team not to.
“In the second half, we had to control the ball and couldn’t do it. They picked it up and we didn’t. We made a few mistakes on offense and defense and they capitalized.”
Junior Keaton Dunsford had an outstanding afternoon for the Cardinals. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 261 yards. He threw for two TDs and rushed for another. He was intercepted once.
As for the defense, linebackers Chris Steele, Chris Codding and Julian Torres played well.
Steele had an interception, fumble recovery and seven tackles. Codding was in on a dozen tackles and had an interception while Torres picked up a sack to go along with seven tackles.
Two-way lineman Nolan Sheahan, who will play for the Air Force Academy next fall, saw the momentum swing from the trenches.
“They (Marin Catholic) got their second wind and we weren’t able to match them,” he said.
Cardinal Newman finishes with an 11-2 record while Marin Catholic plays on with a 12-1 mark.