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Bergen Catholic grinds out 23-17 win over Don Bosco Prep

Meeting for the 72nd time on Friday night at Granatell Stadium in Ramsey, New Jersey, the Bergen Catholic Crusaders and Don Bosco Prep Ironmen were both searching to get back on track as both schools came into the match-up not sporting a winning record. With the stands packed to capacity, music blaring from the loudspeakers and fans voicing their support the first half ended up being a one sided affair.

Bergen Catholic’s offense clicked on all cylinders from the start on the opening possession, churning out a 13-play 85- yard drive that chewed almost six minutes of the clock capped off by running back Ryan Butler exploding through the line for an 11-yard touchdown run. 

After both teams’ exchanged interceptions it was the Crusaders that capitalized on the opportunity, moving in six plays and 62 yards that wiped out just two and half minutes off the clock quarterback Despite losing multiple starters to injuries in the first quarter, quarterback Andrew Boel managed to hook up on a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Amar Gist a minute and change into the second quarter. 

Missing the extra point on the first score, Bergen Catholic decided to go for the two-point conversion that ended up successful as Boel connected on a pass to wide receiver Pierson Tobia. Meanwhile the Crusaders defense swarmed the pocket forcing quarterback Jahquil Batts into making errant throws while shutting down the running lanes. 

Late in the first half Boel orchestrated a masterful 13-play drive. Helped out by a pass interference call against in the end zone placed the ball at the 23-yard line, Boel hit running back Rakeem Ross on a 13-yard pass and then spiked the ball on the ensuing play. As time ran out in the first half, placekicker Giancarlo Carbonaro booted home a 27-yard field goal. Boel finished 7 of 8 for 85 yards while rushing the ball five times for 27 yards. Butler rushed for 83 yards on 14 carries. 

Gist on the first half, “A lot of people were carrying the ball because a lot of guys got hurt. As soon as one guy goes down, you have another guy ready to step up and that’s what we did. Boel is a phenomenal guy, calm under pressure and no matter what happens it doesn’t rattle him and always saying come on guys, let’s go.”

Starting the second half, Don Bosco Prep head coach Dan Sabella made the switch at quarterback turning to Jake Robbins that ended up paying off huge dividends.  Engineering a 13-play drive that carved up over six minutes of the clock that resulted in a 28-yard field goal from placekicker from Justin Frey.

Feeding off that energy, the Ironmen defense forced a quick three and out. Robbins went right back to work moving the team down the field in seven plays and 57 yards that erased out three and half minutes as running back Jalen Berger blasted through the hole standing up into the end zone on a 19-yard run with 16 seconds remaining. In the third quarter, Robbins ended up completing 7 of 8 passes for 81 yards.

Sensing the momentum shifting the Bergen Catholic offense went back to its bread and butter of smash mouth football on the ground with Boel, Butler, Gist and Ross taking turns running the ball. On a second and goal from the Don Bosco Prep two-yard line, Butler found the end zone for a second time in the contest barreling ahead behind his offensive line. Once again the extra point proved to be an Achilles heel missing for a second time on the night.

Unfazed by the two score deficit, Robbins and the Ironmen offense answered back with an eight-play 60-yard drive. Starting off at the 32-yard line Robbins rifled a 33-yard pass to running back Kyle Monangai. The biggest play came on a fourth and 15 at the Bergen Catholic 40 as Robbins connected on a 23-yard pass to wide receiver Robert DeLuccia. 

A screen pass to Monangai (5 receptions for 98 yards) for 12 yards set up first and goal at the five-yard line. Robbins did the rest from the there scrambling out of the pocket on second and goal and stretching the across the goal line for the score with less than four minutes left.

Once again it was the Crusaders running game and offensive line that cemented the victory with the one-two tandem of Butler and Gist. Butler gaining 20 yards while Gist sealed it with a six-yard run that allowed Bergen Catholic to run out the clock. Butler finished the game with 139 yards on 25 carries while Gist ran the ball nine times for 44 yards and reeled in four catches for 79 yards. 

“We knew coming into the game we could run the ball down their throats, keep going and doing the same thing,” said Gist. “We showed a lot of character after last week, camaraderie we have as a team and came together. We saw that running was working and we continued to go with that. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m on the field and my team can get the W and do whatever I can at my position.”

Bergen Catholic Head Coach Vito Campanile on the win, “They take so much pride in their school and what they did. Our guys really competed until the last minute and proud of them especially Amar (Gist) who had such bad back spasms and could hardly walk. He played 100 snaps and an elite competitor and loves playing football.”

“We lost some guys and had to move others around. We want to be a team that’s physical and runs the football. At the end it was we didn’t need to score but finish.”

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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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