It was a tale of two games in one as Bergen Catholic beat St. Joe’s, 24-21. For the first 39 minutes, Bergen Catholic was heads and shoulders above St.Joe’s and in the last nine minutes, the Green Knights scored two touchdowns and had a chance for a win that the Crusader defense snuffed out.
- Credit belongs to WCTV, as I watched parts of their rebroadcast of the game on Youtube. The broadcast can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53k7G5YRqh0 or simply look up the game on Youtube or their web site, www.wctv.tv.
First Quarter: St. Joe’s came out with the ball and moved down the field, featuring some runs by Audric Estime. But a 45-yard field goal attempt fell just short of the crossbar. BC took over and was forced to punt, but Ryan Butler took a short snap and ran for the first down on the Joe’s 36. Steve Angeli completed a pass to Jack Comeau down to the 15, but the Crusaders 40-yard field goal attempt failed. The key play slowing down BC was a sack by Frankie Monte. The Crusaders came right back after recovering a fumble at midfield. Passes to Steve Lardi and Christian Carti sandwiched a Butler run, giving BC a first down on the 11. They wasted no time with Butler scoring on the following play for a 7-0 lead on the last play of the quarter.
Second Quarter: A couple of Estime runs brought Joe’s to midfield and a completed pass was fumbled, with Jaeden Gould scooping it up and returning the ball to the St. Joe’s 18. Two plays later, Angeli hit Butler in the flat, who did the rest, running it in for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Later in the quarter, Estime broke through the middle and outraced the BC defense for an 80-yard touchdown to cut the BC lead to 14-7. The Crusaders had the ball again when Angeli found Butler down the right sideline for 64 yards to the 16-yard line, followed by another completion to a wide-open Butler on the goal line for a 21-7 lead with 3:24 left.
Third Quarter to Three Minutes into the Fourth Quarter: This part of the game came down to two long drives with BC controlling the clock. The drives were methodical and the Crusaders could have run away with the game. However one drive was turned over on downs halfway through the third and the other ended with a 22-yard field goal by Giancarlo Carbanaro early in the fourth quarter.
Last Nine Minutes: Dorian Nowell found Justin Mucci over the middle for 41 yards to the BC 45, followed by a completion to Nuri Robinson to the 11. Estime then fought his way through the middle and into the end zone for the score. On third down for BC, Monte came up the middle on a blitz and sacked Angeli, forcing a punt. A Bergen penalty on the punt gave Joe’s the ball on the 35 of BC. Nowell then found a wide-open Logan Rivera on a swing pass down to the 4. Estime scored from a yard out to narrow Bergen’s lead to 24-21 with 4:12 left. After a Bergen punt, St. Joe’s had a great opportunity on their 37 with 1:52 left. After a first down on their 48, the Crusader pass rush saved the day. Sydir Mitchell forced Mitchell out of the pocket and DJ Samuels cleaned up. After a second down incompletion, Mitchell was forced out again, when Larue Linder and then Malachi Mercer tackled him. On fourth down, it was Christian Ross who did the honors, ending any chance for St. Joe’s.
Conclusion: Bergen Catholic looked very good the first 39 minutes of the game, but they didn’t put St. Joe’s away until the end. It’s a team with great potential, but great teams finish their opponent. Their pass rush came through on the last four plays and that is a good sign. To be fair, it was their first game and they did not have a preseason scrimmage. If they get better in the next few weeks as I think they can, they have a chance to be an outstanding football team. Only time will tell. For St. Joe’s, they deserve credit for playing 48 minutes. Other teams would have folded, but the Green Knights had a chance to win a game when they were outplayed most of the way. That bodes well for them down the line.
If I had to pick a top player for each team, I would pick Butler for Bergen and Monte for Joe’s. Butler had a good sophomore year and it looks like he is progressing. He does everything well and while he is not quite on the level of Estime, any team would love to have him. Monte is a football player’s football player and he made his presence known throughout the game. Greg Toal would call him a “heck of a football player.” Estime played very well, but that’s how good Monte was today.