Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com

The St. Bernard’s Crusaders are the champions of Eureka.

For this year anyway.

In just a third meeting ever with the Eureka Loggers, St. Bernard’s scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter on the way to a 21-13 victory at Crusader Field on Saturday..

More importantly, it lifts the Crusaders to 1-1 in league play (7-2 overall) and will help solidify their status as the No. 1 seed for the North Coast Section Division 6 playoffs.

“I was very happy with our performance. That was as physical as can play defensively,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “And I thought we played physical offensively as well, and really ran the ball well today.”

For the Loggers (0-2 in league and 3-6 overall), the loss may hurt their pride, but it won’t have much of an effect on their playoff push.

They still need to win at Del Norte next week to make the eight-team Division-5 field, something they needed to do regardless of Saturday’s outcome.

They got a scare in the second half when quarterback Hayden Bode, who had been finding his groove running the ball, was forced out of the game with what looked like a serious knee injury, joining a long list of wounded Loggers.

The injury, however, doesn’t appear as serious as first feared.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that bad,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “But you never know until he sees a doctor.”

Bode, who was walking around on the sideline after the knock, wanted to return to the game.

The Crusaders took the lead on their opening possession, when quarterback Will Omey capped a 45-yard drive with a five-yard TD run.

The Loggers responded early in the second quarter, scoring on a controversial drive that began at their own nine-yard line, when Bode broke free down the sideline for a 52-yard TD run, his third in four straight quarters going back to last week.

The Crusaders had forced a punt deep in Eureka territory and appeared to have blocked it, but the officials ruled the SB player did not touch the ball and the Loggers recovered possession at their own 45 to keep the drive alive.

It didn’t matter as the Crusaders came out the more impressive team in the second half, quickly marching 72 yards on their opening drive and scoring on a two-yard Will Omey QB sneak.

The Crusaders special teams stepped up again on the Loggers’ ensuing possession, with Demarte Prudhomme tackling the Eureka punter before he had a chance to get the ball off and giving SB a first and goal.

The home team was unable to capitalize, however, when Eureka’s Lamarie Dunn intercepted a pass in the end zone one play later to give the ball right back to the Loggers.

The windy conditions did not help either team’s passing game, and all five TDs on the afternoon came on the ground.

The Crusaders stretched their lead late in the third quarter when Lane Thrap ran in from four yards out to cap a 65-yard, 10-play drive and give his team a two-TD lead.

Dunn stepped up again with a fumble recovery in the fourth to set up the Loggers’ second TD of the game, after they marched 76 yards on 17 plays and scored on a four-yard Keeb Her run with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Bode Joyner then recovered the onside kick attempt for the Crusaders to seal the win.

Prudhomme, Justin Hagler and Talimaivao led a very strong Crusaders defensive performance, while Omey did an outstanding job covering Eureka standout receiver Josiah Graham.

“It was just great team defense,” Tomlin said.

Trevor Bell made his return from injury late in the game, replacing Bode at quarterback and showed no ill-effects from a three-week absence.

“I’m happy with how my kids played,” White said. “We had a ton of adversity the last couple of weeks with the amount of injuries we’ve had, and for us going out and competing the way we did, I have no complaints at all.”


Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.