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Bellarmine claws back for Central Coast Section D2 title win over St. Ignatius

Ben Pfaff's second touchdown run — this one with 1:11 remaining — gives Bells 21-14 victory over St. Ignatius.

During a four-game West Catholic Athletic League skid, this didn't seem remotely possible. 

Not even a blip on anyone's radar. 

Getting back to .500 was simply the goal So many injuries. So much switching positions. So much losing. 

But the Bells from Bellarmine are a resilient bunch. 

They were sent jumping for sheer joy at midfield at San Jose City College Saturday night in the final seconds of a 21-14 Central Coast Section Division 2 title win over WCAL rival St. Ignatius. 

Ben Pfaff, the team's leader and top player coming into the season, slowed by injury much of the year, scored his second touchdown, an 8-yard run with 1:11 left in the game, to break a 14-14 tie. 

The touchdown was set up on a fumble recover at the St. Ignatius 32 with 3:51. 

The Bells (7-6) worked the ball methodically down field, burning clock and earning a couple first downs, before Pfaff scooted through a hole on the right side for the go-ahead touchdown. 

Ben Pfaff (23) scored two touchdowns Saturday. File photo: Dennis Lee

Ben Pfaff (23) scored two touchdowns Saturday. File photo: Dennis Lee

A sack, the fifth of the game by Bellarmine, and two big hits in the secondary thwarted any chance for St. Ignatius (6-7) to get across even midfield, let alone close to a game-tying score. 

This was Bellarmine's eight CCS championship and first since 2015. St. Ignatius, which had four turnovers, was after its fourth, the last coming in 2012 at the hands of the Bells in an Open Division game. 

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The victory and title was sweet for head coach Jalal Beauchman, in just his third season after taking over for his former coach, the legendary Mike Janda. 

This one was fun from the get-go. 

On the game's third play, St. Ignatius sophomore quarterback Soren Hummel fumbled a snap, picked it up, showed poise and fired a beautiful 71-yard touchdown strike to speedy Pierce St. Geme. 

It was a sign of things to come. 

On Bellarmine's ensuing drive and second play, Pfaff broke loose for a 66-yard gain before being hauled down at the 8. Two plays later, Pfaff sprinted threw a hole on the left side for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 in the first three minutes. 

Hummel fired another bomb on the second possession, 59-yarder to Moe Barnum to the Bellarmine 11. But two plays later, sophomore running back Jarious Hogan fumbled and Bellarmine recovered, one of three St. Ignatius turnovers of the half. 

Bellarmine took the lead with 7:08 left in the second quarter on quarterback Nate Escalada held the ball beautifully on a keeper for a 3-yard touchdown, making it 14-7. 

The lead lasted 19 seconds. 

Hummel found St. Geme again, this on a misdirection screen to the right. St. Geme took the ball behind the line of scrimmage, juked one defender and screamed up the right side where nobody even touched him. 

The 80-yard touchdown knotted the game at 14-14. 

The score would remain that way until the final minute of the game as both defenses absolutely took over. 

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