St. Joe’s (Hammonton) had three touchdowns each from Jada Byers and Ahmad Ross to lead the Wildcats to a 41-21 win over Holy Spirit and win the Non-Public Group 2 championship.
First Quarter: On the game’s third possession, Ross intercepted and ran it in for a 15-yard touchdown. Holy Spirit came right back returning the kickoff to the St. Joe’s 43 and it took the Spartans three plays to get on the board. E’lijah Gray ran 34 yards to the 9-yard line and Ryan Yost connected with tight end Isaiah Gerena for a 10-yard touchdown two plays later. The two-point conversion failed, making it 8-6, St. Joe’s. St. Joe’s came back when Jayden Shertel found Byers down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. Holy Spirit had a kick return to their 40 and a pass interference on St. Joe’s gave Spirit a first down on the 14, but the Spartans turned the ball over on downs.
Second Quarter: Gray went 50 yards to the 11-yard line, but the Spartans turned the ball over on downs at the 2-yard line on fourth-and-one. Shortly after that, Ross went up the middle past two tacklers for an 88-yard touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 20-6 lead with 1:16 left in the half.
Third Quarter: Holy Spirit received a big break when Angelo Vokolos fumbled for St. Joe’s and Azim Baker-Coley went 32 yards to the 15, followed by Yost throwing to Ahmad Brown for the score. Shertel and Byars struck again for St. Joe’s, this time on a 60-yard score, with Byars catching it on the run. Yost and Brown hooked up again for Holy Spirit, this time for a 72-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Gray ran the two-point try in to make it 26-22 with five minutes left in the quarter. Byars broke off two long runs, one for 34 yards and the second 36 yards for the score two plays later, then running in the two-point conversion.
Fourth Quarter: Ross scored from 25 yards out to put the game out of reach with 1:29 left.
Summary: St. Joe’s had more big plays, with their touchdowns being a 15-yard interception return and plays of 55, 60, 88, 36, and 25 yards. Their size advantage up front was probably a difference in wearing down Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit did not take advantage of enough opportunities, turning the ball over on downs several times in St. Joe’s territory.
Individual Players: The big plays featured Byars and Ross. Ross showed he is in the conversation for the state’s best backs and Ross also has a promising future.
For Holy Spirit, Brown made several receptions and showed enough to outrun the secondary on his 72-yard touchdown.