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Football St. Anthony

Football: St. Anthony Falters in Loss to Dominguez

Both St. Anthony and Dominguez had a pretty easy time getting to 2-0 this year. The Saints and Dons racked up points and earned lopsided wins to open the 2023 campaign, but knew they’d need to take their game to a higher level when their paths met on Friday night at Clark Field.

While the visiting Dons didn’t play a perfect game, they limited their mistakes and made big plays throughout the night, starting fast and closing out a 34-15 win over the Saints.

St. Anthony was playing without head coach Raul Lara for this game, after he was ejected late in last week’s win while protesting a number of questionable calls by the officiating crew. In his stead, Dennis Budd and Rudy Cambero filled in as interim coaches, but it’s not easy to replace Lara’s leadership on the sidelines.

“We made a lot of mistakes on offense, we threw some picks that killed some drives,” Budd said after the game. “But it’s tough when you don’t have your captain of your ship. But we’re gonna be back next week.”

Dominguez quarterback Mikaele Fitu-AhKui had a nice night leading the Dons offense, going 14/24 or 202 yards and a pair of passing TDs. He also ran it for 15 yards and a third score. Both of his passing touchdowns came on 4th down–a 26-yard strike on 4th & 12 and then a 27-yard score on 4th & 13.

Those were two back-breaking plays for the Saints defense, who did a nice job stopping the run but allowed too many big plays through the air.

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Skyedann Bobo led the Dons in receiving, hauling in 7 passes for 103 yards and a score. Long Beach Poly transfer Timmy Tuiagamoa caught four passes for 62 yards and a TD, while also adding a nice punt return to set up the first Domingues touchdown.

After Kaleb McCutcheon’s short touchdown run opened the scoring in the second quarter, Dominguez promptly doubled its lead with a 61-yard pick-6 on the second play of the ensuing Saints drive. Dominguez would eventually lead 27-0 at the half, putting the hosts in a big hole.

St. Anthony came out of the locker room and immediately snagged momentum by recovering an onside kick. Later in the drive, QB Adrian Perez hit Jasiah Lolesio-Pua with a beautiful pass on a seam route, connecting for a 32-yard score on 1st & Goal.

The Saints defense made some stops behind Raymond Umi and Raymond Gomez, but an interception and a muffed punt on the next two St. Anthony drives stalled their comeback effort.

Perez would add a 24-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter to make it closer, and ensure the Saints won the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

“We settled down a little bit, (Perez) got his nerves out of him and we were making some good throws, and getting some good runs,” said Budd of the second half. “It just goes right back to turnovers, and on the muffed punt, we gave them good field position. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, and we're gonna clean it up.”

The potent St. Anthony rushing attack totaled 100 yards on 25 carries against the Dons defense, with JoJo Apisala totaling 70 of those yards on 17 carries. Sophomore wide receiver Andres Mendoza had a nice second half, hauling in three passes for 103 yards after intermission.

The Saints will need to bounce back quickly as they’re in for another tough test next Friday, traveling to face 3-0 Salesian in LA. Dominguez, meanwhile, will enjoy its bye week before a visit to Santee.

VIDEO: St. Anthony vs. Dominguez, Football
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.