No last-second miracle finish for St. Bonaventure in CIF Division 1-A bowl game
Coming from behind is nothing new for the St. Bonaventure football team, so when the Seraphs found themselves trailing 7-0 at halftime in the CIF Division 1-A state championship bowl game Saturday afternoon at Saddleback College they were confident another victory was their destiny.
This time, however, it was the opponent, Folsom, that rallied in the final minutes to hand Seraphs coach Joey Goyeneche’s comeback kids a heartbreaking 20-14 loss in their first state bowl trip since winning back-to-back Division III titles in 2007 and 2008.
“We expect greatness of ourselves and I know this hurts, but you can hold your heads up high,” Goyeneche told his players after the loss, many of them in tears. “I’m so proud of you and I’ll remember this team for the rest of my life. We have returned ourselves to glory.”
St. Bonaventure won the Southern Section Division 3 title on George Mann’s 26-yard field goal with 26 seconds left against Warren and reached the state bowl by overcoming a 20-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to stun host St. Augustine with a double pass for a tying touchdown with no time left on the clock followed by Mann’s ensuing extra point for the win.
When the Seraphs (12-4) thwarted a two-point try by Folsom with less than three minutes left, it appeared they were a team of destiny. Only somebody forgot to tell Bulldogs quarterback Ryder Lyons, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 137 yards and ran for 97 yards in 22 carries while rallying his team to an improbable win.
Folsom (12-3) was making its first appearance in a state bowl game since 2018, having earned state titles in 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2018.
“We see lot of things watching the iPad, we made some adjustments and were able to execute much better in the second half,” said St. Bonaventure senior quarterback Anthony Wolter, who completed 15 of 24 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. “We were confident our defense would stop them at the end.”
Folsom scored on its opening possession, ending on Lyons’ four-yard run. The Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to widen their lead when Jack Cunningham fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Landon Senico recovered for Folsom at the St. Bonaventure 16-yard line. However, the Seraphs’ defense held when a fourth-and-eight pass fell incomplete.
In the second quarter, Folsom squandered another scoring chance when Lyons fumbled at the goal line and St. Bonaventure linebacker Dylan Dunst recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback. The teams combined for five fumbles in the first half.
St. Bonaventure tied the score with 5:24 left in the third quarter when Wolter connected with DJ Doss, who made a one-handed grab in the end zone on a fourth-and-15 pass at the Folsom 25-yard line, completing a 65-yard, 10-play drive.
Folsom threatened to regain the lead late in the third quarter, but Drew Cofield knifed through the line to block Lincoln Phelps’ 32-yard field-goal attempt and teammate David Montes recovered.
On the Seraphs’ ensuing drive, Wolter threw a 39-yard strike to Cofield and a 32-yard strike to Kaden Glover to move St. Bonaventure inside the Folsom 15. After a defensive penalty, Koen Glover (Kaden’s older brother), scored on a five-yard run to give the Seraphs a 14-7 lead at with 5:39 left.
Folsom responded with a nine-play, 68-yard drive, capped by Abram Woodson’s seven-yard run. The Bulldogs opted to go for two and Lyons, the younger brother of USC tight end Walker Lyons, tried to score on a keeper but was stopped a foot short by Seraphs linebacker Phillip Wilson III, keeping St. Bonaventure ahead 14-13 with 2:41 remaining.
Rather than try a risky onside kick, Folsom elected to kick the ball deep to try to get a stop on defense while using its timeouts. The strategy paid off as St. Bonaventure was unable to gain a first down and a 28-yard punt gave the Bulldogs the ball back at the Seraphs’ 44 with 2:06 left.
Showing poise under pressure, Lyons used his arm and his legs to move the Bulldogs to the St. Bonaventure two-yard line. Then, the sophomore avoided a rush and threw to Jameson Powell in the middle of the end zone to put Folsom up 20-14 with 20 seconds left.
St. Bonaventure tried a double reverse from its own 25 on the final play, but Cofield was tackled after a short gain as time ran out. A flag was thrown, but the Seraphs were called for an illegal formation, ending the game and giving Folsom a fifth state bowl championship, second most in CIF history behind De La Salle, which has seven state bowl titles and a record 16 appearances.
“What will I remember? Every morning lift, every film study and every practice that got us to this point,” Wolter said. “This team is very special.”
Koen Glover rushed 21 times for 71 yards and caught four passes for 14 yards, Cunningham had five receptions for 52 yards and Jeremiah Barrios led the Seraphs’ defense with seven tackles.