CHELSEA, Mass. -– In an emotional showdown at Chelsea High School on Saturday afternoon, Cathedral was victorious over Pope John XXIII, giving the Panthers an opportunity to win the Catholic Central small outright with one more win.
Cathedral (8-2, 6-0) benefited from two Pope John (5-5, 5-1) interceptions early on, finishing the first half with a 6-0 lead on a 25 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kejonte Hickman to 6-foot-4 wide receiver Kadeem Edge.
Edge, who had two touchdown receptions of 25 yards each on the day, helped anchor an offensive attack that overcame several turnovers and came up in the clutch in overtime.
“I trust my quarterback, I know he’s gonna give me the ball, and he knows where I like it, so I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team,” Edge said.
The quarterback Hickman, only a sophomore, was one of the most dominant performers on the field, throwing for two touchdowns and running in the eventual game-winning touchdown late in the overtime period.
“All summer long, I watched [Hickman and Edge]," Cathedral head coach Duane Sigsbury said. "They had a connection back then and it’s carried on through the year, that must have been like their 13th and 14th connection of the year, or about that.
“Kadeem is a special kid, he’s a Division 1 [college] player but he hasn’t gotten a lot of [college] looks because we’re D4.”
Following a fumbled kick return by Cathedral, Pope John took advantage to start off the second half, as junior running back Joe D’Onofrio picked up all 41 yards over the course of the Tigers’ first scoring drive. After a thirty-six yard run that put Pope John within inches of the goal line, D’onofrio ran in for the score and two-point conversion, the first of four touchdowns that he scored in the contest.
The Tigers' offense greatly improved in taking care of the ball in the second half, while their defense forced a fumble and Hickman’s second interception of the day, but it looked as if the Tigers had come up just short going into the final play of the game.
With five seconds left in the fourth quarter, Pope John quarterback Mike Sullivan scrambled around the red zone and threw up a Hail Mary pass to the endzone. With no time left on the clock, D’Onofrio came down with jumpball, tying the game at 20. Following a significant delay inbetween the touchdown and extra point attempt, the Tigers were penalized fifteen yards for excessive celebration, and were unsuccessful in their long two point attempt.
Cathedral started off the overtime period with a touchdown by Jermal Brevard-Jackson, a 10-yard run and his second touchdown of the afternoon. Following a successful two-point conversion for the Panthers, D’onofrio put Pope John on his back once again, running in a score and successful two-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
Enter Hickman. The young Cathedral quarterback played hero on the Panthers’ final drive, running in a ten yard touchdown to put Cathedral ahead on the scoreboard at the time, and in hindsight, for good. Cathedral stopped the Tigers inside the five yardline on their final possession, and came up with a win that puts them in position to win the Catholic Central small title next week with a win over Marian.
“Thanksgiving is always great,” Sigsbury said, “the next stop in the road for us is a Marian team that’s been working their tails off...They’ll be ready to play on Thanksgiving and we’ll be focused on the playoffs after that.”
Cathedral now has a one game lead over Pope John in the Catholic Central small standings, as Pope John now sits at 5-1 in league. As mentioned, Cathedral will take on Marian on Thanksgiving, while Pope John will play at Lowell Catholic.