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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Riordan rings Bell, goes for first title

(11-24) 21:01 PST Los Altos Hills -- Riordan is the only West Catholic Athletic League team left in the playoffs, and quarterback Darius Bell continues to expand his highlight reel.

One week after Bell set the single-game school record for passing yardage, the 6-foot senior came within 1 yard of tying his own standard as Riordan knocked off Pioneer-San Jose 48-20 at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills on Saturday.

The victory gives the Crusaders (7-3-2) a shot at their first Central Coast Section football title in next week's Medium School Division final against second-seeded Live Oak-Morgan Hill.

Bell completed 21 of 29 passes for 366 yards, threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more in his third 300-yard passing game of the season.

"He's dialed in," Riordan coach Mike Langridge said of Bell, who has been recruited as a quarterback only by Division I Bowl Championship Subdivision teams (formerly I-AA). "If you're a team that runs the spread offense, what else do you want?"

Despite the final score, Riordan didn't have much of a cushion until after halftime.

Bell hit speedy sophomore Aaron Chriswell with a 76-yard pass on the first snap of the game to give Riordan an early lead. Then Bell capped a 76-yard drive on Riordan's second possession with a 1-yard run with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

But Pioneer (6-5-1), which lost to Open Division top-seed Oak Grove 20-19 earlier this season, answered with two touchdowns to tie the game at 13. Meanwhile, Riordan struggled to keep its early pace. The Crusaders gave Pioneer the ball on their own 18 after a bad snap on a punt.

"We lost our execution with holding penalties and dropped balls," Langridge said.

But Bell found Daniel Cannon (8 catches, 90 yards) for the first of two touchdown grabs, a high 9-yard toss to the left corner of the end zone with 2:08 left in the half to give Riordan a 21-13 edge.

"Number two is phenomenal," Pioneer coach Mark Krail said of Cannon.

Bell, who threw for 367 yards in a win over Terra Nova last week, ran for 50 yards on seven carries and seemed to have all the time he needed in the pocket. He downplayed his own success in Riordan's spread offense.

"It's more about chemistry," said Bell, shrugging off his latest performances. "We had four receivers and they had four guys who couldn't man up."

Bell's 22-yard scamper through traffic with 8:03 left in the third quarter buried any Pioneer hopes. He later hit James Carter on a 12-yard strike, his second touchdown pass of the game to a sophomore receiver.

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