Behind more than 300 total rushing yards, Valley Christian escaped Clark Field with a 35-28 nonleague victory Friday over host St. Anthony in a matchup of the reigning Division 9 and 10 CIF-SS champions.

“It was a great, but just an ugly finish,” Crusaders coach Woodie Grayson said. “It’s the same deal with us. We had a lot of guys going both ways and they just wore down.”

The Crusaders were led by senior quarterback Isaac Joseph, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns and added seven carries for 103 yards. Senior running back Gio Hurd had 18 carries for 141 yards and senior running back Darian Green had 10 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

“Anytime you can get any kind of win against these guys, it’s a good win,” Grayson said.

Valley Christian (4-2) came out firing in the first quarter as Joseph connected with senior wide receivers Bailey Torres and Jaylon Tucker for touchdowns and the Crusaders led 21-0 after one.

Saints junior running back Markell Sayles ran it in from two yards out for St. Anthony’s first touchdown with 10:50 left in the half. The Saints (2-3) added another touchdown later in the half, but Valley Christian led 28-14 at halftime.

It was 35-14 in favor of Valley Christian after three quarters, but Sayles added two more touchdowns in the fourth and the Crusaders’ lead was cut to seven with 2:28 left. Hurd had two key runs to get first downs and Valley Christian ran out the clock.

“I thought we got better tonight overall,” Saints coach Mario Morales said. “I saw a lot of fight in the guys and the little things that we asked them to do, they did. I am just proud of them and even though we lost, I thought we turned the corner from a confidence stand point.”

Sayles finished the game with nine carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns. Torres had three catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns and Tucker had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Valley Christian won its third straight game, while St. Anthony lost its third in a row.

A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of former Saints offensive lineman Tim Johnson, who tragically passed away from a car accident on Sept. 25. Johnson’s initials were spray painted on the 20-yard line and a banner with his jersey number and initials hung over the press box.

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