Patti stars in St. Joe’s (Montvale) 26-17 win over DePaul Catholic
St. Joseph’s 26, DePaul 17
St. Joseph (Montvale) Head Coach Augie Hoffman said the seniors had been thinking about this moment for a year after fighting to the end last season in the Non-Public, Group 4 Final loss against Don Bosco Prep at MetLife Stadium.
Senior quarterback Nick Patti made sure those memories would be erased. Patti threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 78 yards as the Green Knights (9-2) edged DePaul Catholic (6-6), 26-17 in the Non-Public, Group 3 Final to capture their 18th state championship and first since 2013.
“It wasn’t easy and shouldn’t be, how championships are,” Augie Hoffman said. “Nick has elevated his game to the next level and think he is good as any quarterback in the state of New Jersey right now. We won tonight because he made some big throws. We took care of business when we had to this year.”
Shaking off an early interception in the first quarter that Spartans defensive back Ronnie Hickman returned to the house 64 yards in the first quarter, Patti recovered tossing a 61-yard strike to wide receiver Nick Cantone with 1:42 left in the period. In the second quarter, Patti continued to find a rhythm rolling out of the pocket and finding a wide-open Gerrit Van Itallie for a 6-yard score. The extra point attempt failed leaving the score at 13-7 with 8:19 remaining.
Set up by 41-yard kickoff return by Teddy Harper the Spartans had good starting field position in St. Joe’s territory and eventually moving the ball inside the 10 only to see the drive stall out resulting in a 21-yard field goal from kicker
John Amodeo trimming the margin to 13-10 at halftime.
Receiving the second half kickoff, the Green Knights struck early as Patti connected with Catone for a second time on a 46-yard bomb in stride. Once again the extra point failed as St. Joe’s extended their lead to 19-10 with 9:51 on the clock.
“I know there was a lot of game left and chance to make big plays,” said Patti. “On the two plays we worked a lot in practice and watched a lot of film in them and knew that would happen. It was huge with both being on third down and to get the ball in the end zone. Our offense was hot all game long.”
The Spartans responded immediately on their ensuing possession. On 3rd & 3 quarterback Taquan Roberson completed a 31-yard pass to Ronnie Hickman moving the ball to the Green Knights 30. Two plays later Roberson hooked up with Roberson heaving a perfect pass into the right corner of the end zone cutting the lead to 19-17 with 4:28 left but that as close DePaul Catholic would get. The St. Joe’s defense clamped down holding the Spartans to 38 yards rushing and 179 yards of total offense.
In the fourth quarter, Patti relied on his legs scampering for runs of 28 and 11 yards moving the ball to the DePaul Catholic 19. Patti sealed the victory firing a laser to wide receiver Yasir Berry in the middle of the end zone.
“When they cut it to two we knew we had to go out and get a touchdown and win it for the defense that absolutely had an awesome game,” Patti said. “Being the number one team in the state is what you work and strive for.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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