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Sunil Sunder Raj

High School Sports

St. Joseph (Montvale) runs past Bergen Catholic 28-10

St. Joseph (Montvale) junior running back Audric Estime certainly got off on the right foot on a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon against Bergen Catholic (3-2) in the Great American Rivalry Series game. After the Green Knights( 5-1) senior defensive back Elijuwan Mack recovered a fumble, Estime brought the crowd at Bergen Catholic High School out of their seats, galloping for a 52-yard touchdown run. 

However, Bergen Catholic responded early in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Steve Angeli to Ryan Butler. Meanwhile the St. Joseph offense stalled out having to punt the ball away a couple of times. The Crusaders offense strung together an 11-play drive that chewed up almost six minutes of the clock and resulted in a 23-yard field goal from Giancarlo Carbonaro. Estime finished the first half with six carries for 72 yards.

“I got what it takes to put the team on my back and finish the game, said Estime. In the first half I saw they did not want to tackle me and they rode me the entire second half”

Special teams played a pivotal role in the third quarter, as senior quarterback Michael Alaimo’s flipped the field position with a booming 52-yard punt that pinned the Bergen Catholic offense at the one-yard line. Ratcheting up the pressure on defense, the Green Knights forced a couple of false starts and eventually a punt. Scooping a short punt, senior Shane Stewart returned the ball to the Crusaders 15-yard line. Faced with a fourth and two at the seven-yard line, Estime blasted through for a four-yard gain and on the very next play plowed ahead for his second score of the day.

Head Coach Augie Hoffmann on the difference between the first and second halves; “We were down at the half, came out and executed the plays. We talked about not having 70 yards of penalties in a half, expected to be on top and come out of it. We ran the ball, missed some shots in order to keep the run going. All of a sudden it turned and we kept it on the ground. When you are in a dogfight like that you have to give it to your best player. Our offensive line is playing well right now and Audric is clearly our bets kid and take him 10 times out of 10 every time”

“That goes to show you how special of a player Michael(Alaimo) is, putting down a ball at the one. We have played the field position game the last couple of years with him and really a special athlete”

After the St. Joe’s defense forced another three and out, Alaimo engineered a nine-play 66-yard drive, eating up almost three minutes of the clock and featured the first five plays on the ground. Estime and senior running back Andre Epps gained huge chunks of yardage on the drive. Alaimo then completed a 22-yard pass to Amin Vanover, advancing the ball down to the Bergen Catholic 10-yard line. On third and goal from the eight, Alaimo rolled out of the pocket and threw a pass to senior tight end Brayden Kelly for the touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, the Crusaders offense appeared to get back on track. Starting at the 29-yard line, senior running back Ryan Butler carved out 16 yards while Boel completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Santino Correa. On fourth and one at the Green Knights 41-yard line, the St. Joe’s defense rose to the occasion again swarming Butler as he attempted to reach for the first down marker, forcing a three-yard loss and turnover on downs.

Looking to put the game away, the Green Knights offense went back to their potent ground and pound attack, with Estime carrying the ball six consecutive plays in a row while gaining 42 yards before giving way to senior running back Te’Rai Powell. There was no drop-off as Powell sealed the 28-10 victory with a four-yard score with three and half minutes remaining. Estime rushed the ball 25 time for 176 yards including 19 carries and 102 yards in the second half as the St. Joe’s offense had over 200 yards rushing on the day earning him Player of the Game.

Defensively after yielding 98 yards of rushing, with Ryan Butler (23 carries for 101 yards) gaining 74 and 94 yards passing in the first half, the Green Knights defense bottled it up in the second half, limiting Butler to 27 yards on the ground and 31 yards passing. 

“A great battle in the trenches and the offensive line made me look great and score showed at the end of the game, Estime said. I was tired but had to keep going and put the team on my back. A big game, great atmosphere between St. Joe’s and Bergen Catholic so it definitely feels great to come out with this W. It sends a message to the Big North, state of New Jersey and rest of the country but we don’t look at the rankings and No. 1, we just take it week by week and grinding it out in the film room, weight room and practice”

“I felt fresh, had a lot of energy and wanted the ball. I have the best offensive line in the state and country and they opened up big lanes for me. We had to bounce back from the St. Frances(Md) loss and prove something to the country”

Augie Hoffmann on the victory, “This is a St. Joe’s win, we ran the ball in the second half, imposed our will and we have the best running backs in the state of New Jersey and that’s a fact and proud of their effort. They were in condition and came to play”

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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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