BELMONT, Mass. – Trailing by three with less than a minute remaining before halftime, St. Sebastian’s did something nobody saw coming, scoring three touchdowns over those final 60 seconds en route a 41-10 rout over ISL rival Belmont Hill.
The entire game and its complexity changed during that closing minute. After Belmont Hill had rallied to take a 10-7 lead, disaster would strike soon.
On St. Sebastian's next possession, the Arrows engineered a 95-yard drive capped by Blake Gallagher's 1-yard touchdown dive with 58 seconds showing to grab a 14-10 advantage.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hillies returner Sultan Olusekun lost the handle on the ball, which was recovered by St. Sebastian's on the Belmont Hill 27. Needing just four plays, senior quarterback Geoff Wade (9 of 17, 166 yards) found Edosa Onaiwu for a 12 yard scoring pass with 0:27 to go, putting St. Sebastian's up 21-10.
The costly special team miscues by the Hillies carried on. A hesitation on taking the ball out of the end zone on the following kickoff set Belmont Hill up at its 5. While the Hillies lookied to run out the clock, Arrows junior safety Mike Calabro scooped up a fumble and returned it into the end zone, sending the Sebs into the break on top, 27-10.
"They made some mistakes and we were able to capitalize on them," said Arrows' 37-year coach Bob Souza. "Last year we turned the ball over to them three times and that was the ball game (losing 9-7) so we knew all about that.
“[Turnovers] can change things pretty quickly and that was the difference in the game today. Their kids played tough and did a nice job. But once they got down it played to our strengths. Our kids have played some pretty good football against some good teams this year and they know how to play."
Methodically walking into their locker room, Belmont Hill (3-1) never knew what hit them. Looking dazed and confused, that demeanor would carry into the third quarter. On St. Sebastian's (3-1) first possession of the second, it drove 48 yards before Gallagher (11 carries for 26 yards) once again got the nod, scoring from a yard out.
Things quieted down until midway through the fourth quarter. After the Hillies were forced to punt, St. Sebastian's got the ball back on its own 39. A 17-yard gallop by Onaiwu preceded his 44-yard sprint into the end zone to put his club in front by 21 points.
Onaiwu finished the afternoon with 60 yards on eight attempts.
As a team, St. Sebastian's rolled up 369 yards of offense while holding Belmont Hill to 290.
"Defensively we came out with a lot of intensity," said senior defensive end Ryan Lee, who made his presence felt all game long as he was able to maintain a steady pass rush. "We were able to put a lot of pressure on their quarterback and he had a lot of overthrown balls today. After last week, we came here with the mindset that we weren't going to lose this game."
Early on, Belmont Hill started out the way it has come to expect. The Hillies took the opening possession and drove to the Arrows' 20-yard line. Receiver Evan Chaletzky took a pass from Harry Kraft (162 yards passing on 18 of 36 attempts) and, in his attempt to reach the goal line, was smothered resulting in a fumble recovered by St. Sebastian's on the 3-yard line.
The Arrows drove the length of the field before Wade, on the option, pitched the ball to Tom Seidl. The sophomore (5 carries, 74 yards) bolted 12 yards around right end into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Several minutes into the second quarter, Chaletzky, also the team's field goal kicker, saw his 22-yard attempt blocked. St. Sebastian's would take over but had to punt from its own 22. On the play, Hillies' defensive end Benny Wanger broke in free and block it which, in turn, led to Charles Durbin recovering it in the end zone to knot the game at 7-7 with 5:06 remaining before halftime.
A few moments later, Seamus O'Donovan picked off Wade's pass to set the stage for Chaletzky's 27-yard field goal, giving the Hillies their three point edge with 3:22 showing.
What would occur just a couple of minutes later will be something talked about by this band of Arrow players for years to come as they changed an entire game's fortunes in a one-minute span.
"It's a great way to bounce back and come out and really take it to them," said Gallagher, a sophomore. "We just basically beat them by playing smash mouth football, especially late in the second quarter. They were undefeated but we were coming off a tough loss so we wanted to come out and prove ourselves. Everyone played awesome. I still feel we are one of the best teams in this league."