SAN JOSE -- Bellarmine College Prep's 38-35 victory took a somber turn when Valley Christian defensive lineman Richard Salazar suffered a neck injury late in the fourth quarter Friday night.
The junior lay on the field at Valley Christian for several minutes as trainers and paramedics treated him. He then was strapped onto a board and taken off the field in an ambulance.
Salazar raised his arm as he was leaving, drawing cheers from the crowd.
"Hopefully they're going to be able to tend to him at the hospital, and he's going to be OK," said his coach, Mike Machado. "He suffered a neck injury, which is never good and a little scary. So obviously our hopes and prayers are that he's going to be OK.
"He was moving his arms. His lower extremities, the feeling wasn't real great and movement wasn't real good, either. But it looked like he started getting it back before he left, and hopefully it's headed in that direction."
The injury came as Bellarmine was trying to run out the clock on the victory that clinched at least a tie for the West Catholic Athletic League title for the Bells.
Bellarmine and Valley Christian entered the game on opposite ends of the WCAL standings but had one thing in common: They had played a lot of close games.
This one was no different.
But top-ranked Bellarmine overcame another huge game from running back Ryan Severson, who finished with 261 yards and two touchdowns in 21 carries, to extend
"We play a lot of close games and somehow are eking out the win at the end," Bellarmine coach Mike Janda said. "It shows a lot of courage from our players."
Bellarmine held a 10-point lead after Joey Sanfilippo scored on a 65-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, but Valley Christian kept charging.
Severson, playing in his final home game, ran 47 yards to the Bellarmine 33 on the first play of the ensuing series, then gained 20 yards on a screen pass to the 10.
On the next play, John Wilkinson scored to cut the Bells' lead to 38-35.
But just as Bellarmine had done through the second half, it made the plays it needed to hold off Valley Christian.
On third-and-11 from the Bellarmine 19 with a little less than three minutes remaining, K.J. Carta-Samuels threw a 15-yard pass to Kenneth Olugbode that gave Bellarmine (8-1, 6-0 WCAL) a crucial first down.
"If we would have given the ball back to them in the end, I feel like they would have scored," Janda said.
Carta-Samuels had a big game, on the ground and through the air. His 59-yard run early in the second half helped the Bells extend a three-point halftime lead to 24-14.
But every time the Bells' extended their lead to double-digits, Valley Christian (3-6, 1-5) responded. Severson's 75-yard run on the final play of the third quarter pulled the Warriors to within 31-28.
"It was a tough one tonight," Carta-Samuels said. "Their offense was pretty explosive tonight. We've got some work to do going forward. But our offense did well. That was our motto -- just want-to. That's really what this game was about."
Valley Christian looked like the WCAL leader on its first possession, methodically driving 63 yards in 10 plays for the game's first touchdown. The Warriors had only one third-down play on the series and finished the drive when sophomore Kirk Johnson wove through the middle from the 8 to give Valley Christian a 7-0 lead.
But Bellarmine answered on its first series, took the lead in the second quarter and held off Valley Christian the rest of the way.
"We've got to find a way to turn these things in our favor," Machado said.
BELLARMINE 38, VALLEY CHRISTIAN 35
Bellarmine 7 "10 "14 "7--38
Valley Christian 7 "7 "14 "7--35
VC -- Johnson 8 run (Korenig kick)
BCP -- Carta-Samuels 1 run (Bush kick)
BCP -- Olugbode 46 run (Bush kick)
VC -- MacIntyre 14 run (Korenig kick)
BCP -- Changras 30 FG
BCP -- Olugbode 1 run (Bush kick)
VC -- Severson 13 run (Korenig kick)
BCP -- Olugbode 3 run (Bush kick)
VC -- Severson 75 run (Korenig kick)
BCP -- Sanfilippo 65 run (Bush kick)
VC -- Wilkinson 10 run (Korenig kick)
Records -- Bellarmine College Prep 8-1, 6-0; Valley Christian 3-6, 1-5.