KENTFIELD – Fort Bragg’s historic football season came to a crushing finish Saturday as the stronger, deeper Marin Catholic Wildcats ended the Timberwolves’ undefeated streak and dreams of a North Coast Section championship.
Marin Catholic, ranked No. 1 in Division 4 after having played in the larger Division 3 championship last year, routed 8 seed Fort Bragg, 49-0, in the quarterfinal.
The Wildcats scored on each of their first five first-half possessions, failing only when a long field-goal attempt missed at the end of the half.
Fort Bragg, meanwhile, was forced to punt three times in the first half and turned the ball over on downs twice — including at the beginning of the quarter when the Timberwolves had the ball a half-yard from the goal line.
Marin Catholic led 35-0 at halftime.
With the victory, the Wildcats, 10-1, advance to play No. 4 seed Moreau Catholic, 11-1, in a semifinal Saturday at home. Fort Bragg ends its season as champions of the North Central League I (7-0) and 11-1 overall.
“This team accomplished great things,” Fort Bragg coach Roy Perkins said after the loss, exchanging emotional hugs with players and parents. “It was an absolutely phenomenal season, a historic season.”
The Timberwolves broke multiple offensive records in their undefeated regular season, largely on the shoulders of senior quarterback Kaylor Sullivan, who led the state in passing yardage.
In its first two drives, Fort Bragg looked solid, though not dominant.
Sullivan connected with wide receiver Lucas Triplett on a 19-yard catch in tight coverage to move the Timberwolves to the Wildcats’ 30-yard line after just six plays. But two incompletions and a penalty forced Fort Bragg to turn it over on downs.
Fort Bragg’s second possession was its best scoring opportunity.
Trailing 7-0, the Timberwolves put together an 11-play drive, highlighted by a 14-yard reception by Shane Giaccani and an 11-yard catch by Triplett. But the drive stalled out near the goal line.
A Sullivan pass was tipped, he was stopped short on a rush attempt and on fourth-and-goal inside the 1, then Sullivan and Triplett couldn’t connect near the corner of the end zone.
Taking over at its own goal line, Marin Catholic marched down the field on nine plays in 2:33, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Darius-James Peterson to Peter Armusewicz. Sean McKeough’s point-after gave the Wildcats a 14-0 lead.
“That goal-line stand at the 1-foot line, that was enormous,” Marin Catholic coach Mazi Moayed said. “That was really a 14-point swing; we stopped them and went down and scored. That took the wind out of their sails.”
“We were in the red zone two or three times and didn’t finish,” he said. “If we would have scored on those, it would have been 14-14. Then our momentum would have kept us going.”
Marin Catholic quarterback Peterson had a hand in five of his team’s seven touchdowns, throwing for two and running for three.
Fort Bragg’s Perkins was disappointed having to play a powerhouse like Marin Catholic, a private school in the same division based on enrollment, but one that can attract quality athletes from virtually anywhere.
Ultimately, that creates an unsafe and noncompetitive atmosphere, he said. Three Fort Bragg players left the game with serious injuries, including one with a possible broken leg.