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BC flexes offensive muscles in win over St. Augustine Prep

Bergen Catholic 57, St. Augustine 33

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(Photo by Brian Carr)

The past couple of weeks the Bergen Catholic offense had been struggling and dealing with nagging injuries. On Saturday, the No. 2 seeded Crusaders put all those issues to bed with a 57-33 rout of No. 7 seed St. Augustine Prep in the first round of the Non-Public Group 4 Playoffs at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

Junior quarterback Johnny Langan had a stellar game throwing four touchdown passes while adding a rushing score. Sophomore running back Josh McKenzie dominated on the ground with three scores.

“This is what you play for and told our kids all along that you are going to go through your ups and downs with an incredibly competitive schedule week in and out but really believe the lessons that we learned over the first nine weeks prepared us for this and ready to go,” Bergen Catholic Head Coach Nunzio Campanile said. “We have given guys finally some running room and opportunity to go out and make some plays and did a great job. It starts and ends with our offensive line that have made great strides in the last two weeks.”

Bergen Catholic wasted no time jumping to a big advantage in the first quarter, thanks to special teams’ and defense. Backed up deep at their four-yard line, St. Augustine punter Nathan Fondacaro muffed the punt in the end zone as the ball rolled out leading to safety with 7:36 left. The Crusaders got the ball back and did not take long to stretch the lead. Langan dashed for 38-yards on a QB keeper moving the ball deep into Hermits territory. Facing 3rd and 10 at the 19, Langan scrambled out of the pocket and just before going out of bounds near the sideline fired a pass senior wide receiver Andrew Vito who did the rest racing down the right sideline for the touchdown extending the margin to 9-0 with 6:18 remaining.

St. Augustine responded just 12 seconds later with quarterback Joshua Zamot’s pass getting deflected and into the hands of wide receiver Jaylen DeCoteau who galloped 67 yards untouched for the score trimming the lead to 9-7. After a three and out by Bergen Catholic and shanked punt of 17 yards, the Hermits had the ball at the Crusaders 43-yard line. The defense held and on 4th down senior linebacker Shqipron Idrizi sacked Zamot.

The Crusaders moved down field in lightening fashion as Langan completed a 35-yard pass and McKenzie carved up chunks of yardage on the ground leading to a 6-yard touchdown with 1:57 on the clock. Next up it was the special teams’ turn to make an impact play with senior Nick Palmer blocking a punt. Utilizing his speed on the ground, Langan gained the edge on a QB keeper and raced down the right sidelines into the end zone making it 23-7 with 1:26 left.

“You see every week the special teams’ coaching is off the charts and amount of things everyone is doing,” said Campanile. “We told our kids every play is critical. We did a great job in the pass protection and Johnny has done some good things since he has been healthy and moving in the pocket and keeping plays alive. I just think Johnny is the best football player in New Jersey and seeing the things he can do by running and throwing it. Josh has been banged up since the third game of year and today closest to being 100 percent healthy and finishing runs with a passion and vengeance.”

In the second quarter, St. Augustine sliced the lead to 23-13 and a big part of the drive was a fake punt pass from offensive lineman Paul Meduri to Joseph Boncek for 21 yards on 4th and 8 from the Hermits 41-yard line. On 2nd and 10 from the Bergen Catholic 38, Zamot tosses a touchdown strike to Ezekiel Ennis. The extra point was blocked leaving the score at 23-13 with 10:33 remaining in the first half.

Palmer shined on special team’s once again returning the ensuing kickoff 50 yards into Hermits territory. On 3rd and 11 at the 35-yard line, Langan hooked up with Vito for a second time increasing the lead to 30-13 with nine minutes to go. The Hermits gambled on their ensuing possession faking a punt on 4th and 22 from their 23-yard line that the Crusaders quickly snuffed out.

Bergen Catholic took advantage of the short field as McKenzie plowed in for his second score. A pooch kick by the Crusaders led to a recovery at the St. Augustine 20-yard line. McKenzie seized on the opportunity registering his third score with a three-yard run.

“We had a great game plan coming into the game and we beat a great team,” said Langan. “The offensive line has been working like dogs the past couple of weeks and really getting after it and stepped up allowing no sacks.”

“Coach Campanile emphasized special teams’ is going to win this game and by watching film we could get some blocks and were key to the game and getting off to a good start,” said Palmer. “We had good technique on defense and ran to the ball.”

Next Saturday the Crusaders (7-3) will face No. 3 seeded St. St. Peter’s Prep (7-3) at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, with kickoff at 1:00 p.m. In the regular season, the Marauders defeated Bergen Catholic in shootout 48-42.

“There is a lot of things we have to clean up from the first game and they took it to us on offense,” said Campanile. “We have to be better upfront on defense and figure some things on offense to control the game. We did a great job throwing the ball in the second half but going to have to run the ball to win the game.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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