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Sunil Sunder Raj

High School Sports

St. Augustine Prep stuns Seton Hall Prep, advances to Non-Public Group 4 semifinal match-up against St. Peter’s Prep

Facing off on a chilly and blustery Saturday afternoon at the Kelly Athletic Complex in West Orange, New Jersey with an opportunity to advance to the Non-Public Group 4 semifinals, the Seton Hall Prep Pirates (8-2) and St. Augustine Prep Hermits (7-3) both came into the match-up riding winning streaks. The Pirates were winners of seven straight while the Hermits had won five in a row.

Early on in the first quarter, Seton Hall Prep had an opportunity to put points up. After driving deep into Hermits territory, the St. Augustine Prep defense snuffed out a fake punt and stopped Pirates running back Jackson Dowd short of the first down marker.

The Hermits offensive paved the way for a trio of players in Nasir Hill (24 yards), Kanye Udoh and Carnell Davis (20 yards) to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground. A 10-play 62- yard drive that chewed up five minutes of the clock would be capped off by a three-yard touchdown run from 6’1, 320-pound running back Isaiah Raikes (24 yards) with 52 seconds remaining.

That proved to be the only points of the first half, but it was the St. Augustine defense that dominated the Seton Hall Prep offense two additional times on fourth down plays including a fourth and three at the Hermits 10-yard line early into the second quarter.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, the St. Augustine running game showed no signs of letting up led by Udoh gaining 98 of his 147 yards on the day. Starting out at the midfield with seven minutes left in the third quarter, kept it mostly on the ground except for one pass from quarterback Austin Leyman to Hill. Facing a fourth and goal at the Pirates one-yard line Leyman plowed through the maze of players into the end zone with less than two minutes to go.

A stunned home crowd initially was whipped into a frenzy six seconds later as quarterback Zander Zebrowski launched a 67-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nicholas Gullace. In the fourth quarter momentum shifted even further in favor of Seton Hall Prep with Ryan Monteleone picking off a Leyman pass that was confirmed after a video replay review.

Feeding off the energy of the crowd, Zebrowski led the Pirates offense on a 16-play 75-yard drive. However, a fourth and four at the six-yard line is where Zebrowski took over by rolling out of the pocket and running towards the end zone and tip toeing his way across the goal line with 4:17 remaining. After an offsides penalty was assessed against the Hermits, Seton Hall Prep head coach Bill Fitzgerald gambled by sending the offense back out onto the field. The move paid off as running back Matt Colantuono successful barreled ahead for the conversion making it 15-14.

The back and forth action continued on the ensuing St. Augustine Prep offensive series. Despite connecting on just 2 of 5 passes in the game,  Leyman made his biggest completion airing out a pass down field to Davis who got behind the secondary for the 80-yard touchdown that silenced the crowd and just took 11 seconds off the clock. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score at 20-15 Hermits.

Special teams ended up factoring into the outcome of this game with a pooch kickoff that Kenneth Selby recovered. Facing fourth and inches at the Pirates 33-yard line, Leyman’s hard count managed to get the Seton Hall Prep defense to commit jump across the line thus an offsides penalty was assessed enabling St. Augustine Prep to run out the clock and setting off an emotional celebration. Next Friday the Hermits take on the top seed St. Peter’s Prep(9-1) with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m.

The Hermits running game amassed 221 total yards while the defense limited Pirates running back Matt Colantuono to 46 yards on 17 carries. Coming into the game Colantuono had rushed for 1045 yards and 14 touchdowns. Zebrowski ended up completing 16 of 23 passes for 211 yards and ran for 33 yards. The Seton Hall Pirates averaged 30 points per game.

St. Augustine Prep Head Coach Peter Lancetta on the victory, “I want to savor this one for at least tonight, I respect all that St. Peter’s Prep has done and historically always at the top and are in the Power 4 in New Jersey but we got a chance and don’t have one if you don’t make it there and we made it there. Matt Lenguadoro, Bear (Brian) Coyle and Phil Brunozzi, I leave it up to them and don’t get involved too much with the defense and they have been doing an outstanding job.”

“We got Carnell (Davis) one on one with a guy coming over late and able to get behind him and made a great adjustment to the ball and Austin (Leyman) put it right there which was a huge answer. I love our offensive line and they are my babies and we ran the ball well today against a very good team.”

Austin Leyman on the victory, “It means a bunch, we always talked about coming up here and winning a game and representing the South and people say South Jersey teams can never beat North Jersey teams and proved them wrong today. Coach (Lancetta) comes into work every single day, I spend lunch time with him going over everything, an amazing guy and even better coach. We just have to get back to work Monday and come ready. It’s going to be a battle but I think we showed today that we can compete no matter who it is.”

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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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