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Sunil Sunder Raj

High School Sports

Seton Hall Prep shocks No. 2 St. Joseph (Montvale) with fourth down trick play TD

Seton Hall Prep (7-1) Head Coach Bill Fitzgerald said afterwards he kept telling his team to keep going, don’t look too far, it’s the play in front of you. Down 10-0 early to No. 2 St. Joseph (Montvale) (5-3) at Brendan P. Tevlin Memorial Field the second quarter things did not appear promising for the Pirates but two minutes later catching a break with Green Knights tight end James Morrison fumbling the ball and senior middle linebacker John Nicosia recovering the ball at the St. Joseph 27-yard line.

Five plays later senior quarterback Zander Zebrowski rolled out of the pocket and found a wide open senior tight end Dominic Busby for a five-yard touchdown. However, the Seton Hall Prep defense had no answer in containing Green Knights senior running back Audric Estime. On the ensuing St. Joseph offensive possession, Estime churned out 56 yards on the ground finishing off a seven-play 75-yard drive that ate up two and half minutes of the clock with a seven-yard score. In the first half, Estime totaled 121 yards on 12 carries.

Just when it seemed the Pirates would be heading into the locker room down 10 points, Green Knights quarterback committed a costly miscue throwing a pass that was picked off by Busby. Starting at the St. Joseph 45-yard line, Seton Hall Prep’s offense was helped out by a pass interference call assessed against the Green Knights defense. On first and ten at the 16, Zebrowski connected with Busby for a second time on a perfect fade pass in the left corner of the end zone with 45 seconds remaining.

“Dominic and I are great friends off the field and that really helps and in practice every day he is working on his routes and me on my drops and passes and have a great relationship,” said Zander Zebrowski.

Bill Fitzgerald on Dominic Busby, “That got us going, Dominic does so much for us, he plays every snap on defense for us and on offense, he snaps the ball and plays special teams. He is a tremendous player, kid and had two touchdowns in the first half that were awesome.”

In the third quarter, Estime continued to carve out huge chunks of yardage amassing 75 more yards. The Green Knights offense strung together an eight-play 81-yard drive on their first offensive possession of the second half that chewed up almost four minutes of the clock with Estime scoring this third touchdown of the day on a 16-yard run.

With the ensuing kickoff going out of bounds, the Seton Hall Prep offense started out at the 40-yard line. Zebrowski went to work immediately tossing a 32-yard pass to senior wide receiver Nicholas Gullace and seven more to senior running back Matt Colantuono advancing the ball inside the red zone at the St. Joseph 19-yard line.

With Colantuono gaining seven additional yards on the ground and aided by an offsides call on the Green Knights defense the ball inched closer to the goal line, Faced with a four and goal at the one -yard line there was no doubt that the Pirates would go for it and using every inch of his frame Colantuno managed to sneak just across for the score that was confirmed by a video review with a little over a minute remaining.

In the fourth quarter, the St. Joseph offense immediately answered back going back to their bread and butter in Estime tallying 21 yards on the ground moving the ball deep inside Seton Hall Prep territory. However, the Pirates defense clamped down stuffing the run and ultimately forcing a 41-yard field goal that was good by Green Knights placekicker Sebastien Tasko that made the score 27-21.

Receiving the ball with less than nine minutes left, the Seton Hall offense started out at their own 20. Keeping the ball on the ground, the offensive line paved the way with solid blocking that opened up the running games. The St. Joseph defense did themselves no favors committing two personal foul and pass interference penalties that moved the ball down to the Green Knights six-yard line.

With the game on the line the Pirates offense faced another fourth down situation at the six-yard line. What started out as a pass from Zebrowski to Colantuono in the flat turned out to be trick play with Colantuono in turning airing out a strike to wide open senior tight end Jack Larsen in the end zone that set off a wild celebration with five minutes to go.

“Coach Fitz put that in this week that is called Alabama, Zebrowski. Matt goes in and I throw it to him and he throws it to Jack Larsen and worked on it all week.”

Fitzgerald on the game-winning touchdown, “Zander was tremendous and we called the play. Practicing it all week and thought it would be fun and nothing to lose.”

Jack Larsen on scoring the game-winning touchdown, “It was a great play call by Coach Fitz, the line did a good job blocking and came down to that moment. We all executed and practiced that play and went over it.”

Just when it seemed the game was in the bag, Seton Hall had to sweat out a couple of anxious moments. The St. Joseph offense marched down the field on the ensuing possession to the Pirates 29 but the defense rose to the occasion with junior defensive back Giye Jenkins intercepting a Justin Mucci pass on fourth down and six at the 32. In the closing seconds the Green Knights special teams unit attempted several lateral passes on a punt return and had appeared to have scored but on video review a penalty was assessed thus ending the game and sealing a 28-27 comeback victory for Seton Hall. Zebrowski completed 17 of 22 passes for 190 yards while Busby caught 7 passes for 88 yards. Estime had a monstrous day rushing the ball 27 times for 247 yards.

“Coming in we had a lot of doubters on the outside and our team in general,” said Zebrowski. “For the whole week we were just preparing mentally and physically and went into this week with full confidence knowing that we could play with this team and beat them. It’s unbelievable for this program, we were always there and beating the No. 2 team in the state with 19 seniors on this team and on senior day.”

Bill Fitzgerald on the victory, “So proud of these guys, kept working and believing. We made key stops in the key situations and got a couple of turnovers. Our offensive line is tremendous, Lucas Giordano, Thomas Grippo, Jack Michelotti and Anthony Liebig. The stuff that the tight ends do and allow our guys to make plays and a thankless position but most important position on the football field. We took a couple of shots and made a couple of plays.”

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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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