MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — Lucky Sutton
did what he does best. But it was the quarterback play of senior Charlie Mirer
and an inspired defense that lifted Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
to a 33-21 victory Friday over Folsom
in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 1-AA championship game at Saddleback College.
Sutton, who last week set a San Diego Section record with 435 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in a regional final, backed that up with 30 carries for 232 yards and one touchdown as the Dons (12-2) won their third state championship in four tries.
Mirer, the son of former NFL quarterback Rick Mirer, accounted for three touchdowns, including a 28-yard touchdown run with 4:29 remaining to all but seal it. It came on 4th-and-1.
"I tapped my center on the right, got behind some big boys, they pushed me forward and the next thing you know I was down the field," Mirer said. "Surreal. So much hard work for four years consecutively. Surreal."
Said Sutton: "Watching Charlie run for that touchdown was one of the happiest moments of my life."
Folsom (11-4), which lost its first state-title game after four victories, got big games from quarterback Tyler Tremain
(23-for-35 passing, 251 yards, two touchdowns) and Austin McMillan
(six catches, 91 yards, two TDs). The Bulldogs entered the state title game after a resounding 28-27 regional title win over perennial national power De La Salle (Concord). The emotional win might have taken something out of the Sac-Joaquin Section power.
Folsom struck first on the game's opening drive, going 80 yards in 11 plays capped with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tremain to McMillan.
It took the Dons just two plays to respond. Sutton, fresh off his record-setting performance, broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown, making it 7-6. San Jose State bound defensive end Justin Eklund
blocked the extra point.
Mirer fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to Rex Haynes
, giving the Dons a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Just before halftime, Cathedral Catholic drove to the Folsom 14, but mismanaged the clock. Instead of kicking a field goal with the clock running, Mirer was forced to throw and his final pass of the half sailed out of the back of the end zone.
It looked like a major gaffe, but when Victory Johnson
ran in a 36-yard pick-6 all appeared forgotten as the Dons took a 20-7 lead with 10:07 left in the third. That started a flurry of haymakers from both teams.
Tremain shook off the interception, leading a nifty five-play, 80-yard drive, capped with a beautiful 38-yard scoring strike to McMillan.
Back came Cathedral, going 80 yards in 10 plays, finished off with a 22-yard touchdown pass Mirer to Haynes. Sutton wasn't breaking any long runs, but he continually broke off 5-yard bursts for first downs. Cathedral Catholic finished with 22 of them and 375 yards.
"I just wanted to do my part," Sutton said. "If five yards, six, whatever we needed. We won the game and all that matters."
Once again, Folsom responded, with a methodical 11-play, 74-yard drive and Donovan Maxey-Parler dove in from the 1, and Folsom closed to 26-21.
What Folsom did, Cathedral Catholic said "we can do better," and right back down the field the Dons marched. They converted one third-down and two fourth-down tries, the last when Mirer broke through the right side for what looked like a short gain, but turned into a 28-yard touchdown burst.
That made it 33-21 with 4:29 left. Cathedral Catholic held on downs and then ran out the clock.
Afterward, Folsom coach Paul Doherty was upbeat. It's been a long season and haul.
"Counting the spring, we've had 21 games in 2021," he said. "What dedication these kids have. Tonight, we fell just a little short."
Last week, Cathedral Catholic beat Orange Lutheran (Orange) 72-63 in the highest
scoring bowl game in history, thanks largely to to Sutton's record-breaking performance
. The Dons' defense wanted to prove last week was a one-off. They gave up just 293 yards compared to 646 last week.
Folsom had won two previous meetings against Cathedral taking the 2018 1-AA title game
21-14 over the Dons after winning 55-10 in 2014. Mirer was a freshman on the 2018 team.
"We were on revenge tour," Mirer said.