After Moriarty’s waterlogged win over the visiting St. Pius X Sartans on Oct. 7, Pintos head coach Gabe Romero took his team to a grassy patch near the north end of the field for their postgame huddle. The grass was wet at the north end, but it wasn’t as muddy as the middle of the field that became a swamp shortly after kickoff.
With their uniforms soaked—and some of the players’ white pants stained a camo-brown from the mud—the players took a knee to listen to their skipper.
The Pintos slogged through a battle with the always-tough Sartans, and Romero told his players it was a night they’d never forget.
“I’ll tell you what,” Romero said. “You guys are gonna see each other in 20 years and you’re gonna say, ‘Hey, remember when we played in that mud bowl and we beat Pius in the dang mud?’ That was awesome!”
Moriarty running back Gray Wolf scored two touchdowns for the first time this year, the defense stifled the St. Pius offense—particularly with some big stops in the final minutes—and the Pintos weathered the storm to escape with a 13-0 victory.
“It was muddy, it’s been wet all week, the field’s a mess, but I thought for the most part we handled it pretty well,” Romero said, adding, “And it’s always nice to beat Pius.”
Lightning delayed the opening kickoff 35 minutes. A steady downpour drenched the field and it got more saturated as the game progressed.
“Oh yeah, it’s hard to run on it,” Moriarty’s Michael Magoffe said about the field during the first half. “It’s hard to get your feet in it, it’s like a sponge.”
Moriarty used its bread-and-butter rushing attack to move the chains on its opening drive. On Wolf’s first carry of the game, he wriggled through a seam on the right side of the line, bolted down the sidelines and capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown rumble.
“That was my first time touching the ball, and I was just waiting for a crease to open and I hit the hole hard,” Wolf said.
At the start of the second quarter, Moriarty recovered a St. Pius fumble at the Sartans 40-yard line to set up Wolf’s second touchdown.
Runs by Magoffe, Matthew Romero and Santiago Chavez got the Pintos inside the St. Pius 10-yard line. On second-and-goal, Wolf tried to barrel his way in but was stopped at the 2. On third-and-goal, Wolf slithered around the right side and into the end zone.
“The play before that, I fell two yards short, so I decided to finish what I started,” Wolf said. “This is football, I love this.”
Wolf led Moriarty’s rushing attack with 60 yards on seven carries.
The Pintos could have padded their lead near the end of the third quarter when quarterback Amare Gonzales threw a missile of a pass to Matthew Romero for a 65-yard gain inside the St. Pius 20-yard line.
“We’d been running the ball the whole game, so we just came outta nowhere, threw it, and he was wide open,” Gonzales said. “I just wanted to make sure I got it to him, and I knew he would do the rest.”
“It’s nice to catch ‘em off guard and then have somebody wide open,” Matthew Romero said. “It’s always nice when we get to connect on that.”
Moriarty got inside the 5-yard line, but a holding penalty followed by a couple of no-gain runs and a sack on Gonzales stalled the drive.
“The frustrating part about that was we got the big play and then we weren’t able to punch it in,” coach Romero said.”
The Pintos needed a couple of late stops to seal the victory—and the defense delivered.
Corban Pearce and Dominic Montano combined for a sack on St. Pius’ quarterback on one drive. Moriarty’s defensive backs thwarted four consecutive attempted passes on another drive with under two minutes left in the game.
“Our defense played lights-out, our defense really held them,” coach Romero said. “To me, there’s nothing that beats a game like this—this is a game that these kids will remember forever, and a big part of it was rolling around in the mud.”