On a Homecoming night at Ironwood Ridge where floats depicted pirates, knights and even Star Wars Storm Troopers, the Nighthawks found anything but a fairy-tale ending on the gridiron.
Salpointe Catholic rushed for nearly 300 yards and looked nearly unstoppable, as the Lancers maintained their unbeaten season with a 48-27 victory over Ironwood Ridge.
The loss gave the Nighthawks a record of 1-4, one more loss than the team had all last season.
Salpointe's big men took over in the trenches, allowing freshman Johnny Pena to rush for 172 yards on 23 carries. Sophomore Esteban Robinson-Bours and senior Chase Gallagher each had over 40 yards on the ground.
"Controlling the line of scrimmage is key in any football game," said Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene. "It usually leads to good things."
The Nighthawks, playing from behind for most of the game, put up some solid numbers through the air, as junior quarterback Tyler D'Amore passed for 272 yards on 17 completions, most coming under pressure from Lancer pass rushers.
D'Amore completed a pair of long touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Matt Walter, who led all pass-catchers with four receptions for 115 yards. Junior wideout Austin Ballard scored another receiving TD and finished the game with 47 yards on three catches. Senior running back Adrian Brahler, stifled at times, managed to rush for 73 yards on 15 touches.
D'Amore scored the Nighthawks' lone rushing touchdown on a 10-yard scramble in the third quarter.
Ironwood Ridge's scoring opportunities were few and far between, due to the grinding Salpointe ground game.
"I thought our kids played very hard for four quarters and limited the possessions for Ironwood Ridge's offense," said Bene.
The Nighthawks go on the road to face one of Johnson's previous teams, Rincon/University, this Friday, and they will look to improve on the same things they have been working on all season.
"Our biggest thing is just getting consistent," said Johnson.