Eastside Catholic loses quarterback Zach Lewis, who opened the game with two long touchdown passes, but the defense makes the early scores stand up in a 21-7 victory.
Quarterback Zach Lewis had the kind of half most wish was a complete game.
In a rivalry matchup between his undefeated and top-ranked Eastside Catholic and undefeated and second-ranked O’Dea, Lewis had two 84-yard touchdown passes in the opening quarter. The 6-foot senior captain had 329 passing yards before halftime.
But that was the end of his highlight-reel day. Lewis took a hard hit on an incomplete pass midway through the second quarter and didn’t get up. In obvious pain, he had to be carried off the field with a left foot injury.
The Crusaders relied on their defense to hold off the Irish, winning 21-7 at Charlie Acosta Field on Friday night. The win avenges Eastside Catholic’s loss to O’Dea last season and puts the Crusaders in the lead for the Metro League title.
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“It was hard for me, I was crying,” said Lewis of the injury, which will be monitored by his father, a podiatrist. “I had faith in the defense, and the offense held it together. I’m so proud of my team.”
Eastside used one play and a penalty to set up Lewis’ opening 84-yard touchdown pass to senior David Pritchard just 46 seconds into the game. Later, on third-and-nine, Lewis sent a deep pass to sophomore Gee Scott, who stumbled for a few yards before getting his balance to run in from 84 yards out. It put the Crusaders up 14-0 with 5:21 left in the quarter.
O’Dea had trouble getting its signature running game going against Eastside’s defense. Senior Jamyn Patu broke through for a 65-yard touchdown run with 5:07 left in the quarter, closing the deficit to 14-7. But it was the only big run of the game. Patu finished the game with 167 yards on 18 carries.
They made it tough on the passing game too. EC junior Andrew Pederson intercepted a pass to close out the third.
“This is one of the best defenses we’ve ever had,” Eastside coach Jeremy Thielbahr said. “We’re just really talented out there, and they understand so well what we’re doing. My hat is off to Malik Putney, he’s one of our team captains and a general out there on the field for our defense.”
Before the season, many circled the Eastside-O’Dea game as a preview of strong playoff contenders going head-to-head. While Eastside shined, it was clear its offense needs Lewis.
Backup quarterback Hayden Harris completed 1 of 3 passes for 6 yards. Sophomore running back Gio Ursino was the offense in Lewis’ absence, totaling 60 yards on 18 carries.
“We have a long run ahead of us,” said Thielbahr, whose team hosts Seattle Prep next week. “Hayden can throw it deep; we didn’t show that today. We have to get him more comfortable with the offense if it’s next guy up. But Zach is our leader.”