Tahj Bullock leads St. Peter’s Prep to thrilling comeback victory over Bergen Catholic
St. Peter’s Prep Head Coach Rich Hansen did not mince any words in his postgame interview regarding the Marauders being down 22-21 to Bergen Catholic at halftime.
“It was disastrous, I though we played better than being down 22-21,” said Hansen. “It comes down to toughness, I think our guys were resilient and all I can ask for. We went into halftime and almost said wait a minute we are down. The kids were kind of upset but tried to impress on them we have our list of five things to do and did every single one of them and now go out and do it even better and harder and they bought in.”
Jumping out to an early 14-6 advantage behind two rushing touchdowns from sophomore running back Paul Lefkowitz only to see the Crusaders respond on a 31 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Boel to Ryan Butler and Amar Gist converting a two-point conversion run.
St. Peter’s Prep answered back on the ensuing drive, marching down the field in 8 plays and 70 yards that chewed up almost four minutes of the clock capped off by a 27 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tahj Bullock to senior wide receiver Byron Shipman. However, the momentum would be short lived as Jordan Morant returned the kickoff 76 yards to the house. Attempting another two-conversion Boel found wide receiver Joe Aniello in the back of the end zone.
With both teams’ exchanging a couple of punts to start the second half, the Marauders went to work with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Moving in rapid fashion it just took five plays to get into the end zone as Bullock hooked up with senior wide receiver Jelani Mason on a 22-yard touchdown with 41 seconds left. The two-point conversion attempt failed leaving the score at 27-22
Starting out at their own 19-yard line with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter picked up huge chunks of yardage on the ground to move deep inside Bergen Catholic territory. Facing a fourth and 10 at the Bergen Catholic 33, Bullock threw a perfect pass down the middle of the seam to wide receiver Zyeiar Miller but the ball slipped out of the hands of Miller turning the ball over on downs.
“That dropped pass was off his hands, he made an effort for the ball and couldn’t come down with it,” said Hansen. “That’s not to say letting them go the distance and score and go up on us kind of took the life out of us a little bit.”
That ignited the Crusaders offense getting the ball back with a little over six minutes left on the clock. Boel orchestrated a perfect seven play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Amar Gist with than two minutes remaining. On the two-point conversion play Ryan Butler plowed straight ahead on the run making it a 30-27 contest.
Possessing the ball with 1:47 on the clock, the Marauders offense faced an almost impossible third and 24 at their own 14-yard line after Bullock was sacked. Finding his favorite target in Mason, Bullock complete a 16-yard pass coupled with a personal foul against the Bergen Catholic defense moved the ball up to the 45.
After completing a pass to Cody Simon, Bullock worked his magic again hitting Mason on a 27-yard touchdown pass in stride with 24 seconds remaining. Bullock completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards while rushing 18 times for 105 yards. Lefkowitz carried the ball 12 times for 46 yards as St. Peter’s Prep gained 186 total rushing yards.
Hansen on the comeback win, “That’s about as tough as it gets. Tahj made some great decisions and extended the plays. When you have a quarterback that can extend plays and give you a breathing chance. No matter what’s going on it’s hard to defend a dual quarterback that are truly pass first and run second. Jelani had a great day and we see that in practice every day and so happy for him and to have that kind of day in this environment. He deserves it, a good athlete and player and we’re happy to have him.”
“It’s huge to come on the road against them on homecoming day and think we grew up a little today and showed toughness.”
Tahj Bullock on the victory, “We just wanted to use our speed and put it on those guys. Kudos to my offensive line and wide receivers and couldn’t have done it without them and a team effort. We work on that two-minute drill every week in practice and wide receivers knew what to do.”
Mason on the win and game-winning touchdown, “We knew we had enough time to go and make the plays. Tahj is really impressive and does a lot for us. We rely on him to make the calls and grew as a leader and tells us to keep going. The first time in awhile we have opened up the season at 3-0, know how to fight and come back and in this environment it was big for us.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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