BRONX, N.Y. — When you’re playing an elite team, you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you can get.
St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) certainly had its chances early on in its matchup with POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) on Saturday night. In fact, the Eagles, who came in at No. 6 in the POWERADE FAB 50, had the ball twice in Don Bosco territory on their first two drives of the game.
But St. Edward came away empty on each drive, and the Ironmen responded with a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a surprisingly easy 38-7 win at Jack Coffey Field on the campus of Fordham University.
It was the 40th consecutive victory for Don Bosco (5-0) and its third win over a FAB 50 team this season. Meanwhile, St. Edward (6-1) had its 21-game winning streak halted.
“No doubt those stops were huge,” said Don Bosco coach Greg Toal. “I thought we made them one-dimensional, and when they’re one-dimensional, we could get after their pass a little bit. Thank God we could stuff the run; I think everything started from there.”
Things looked promising for the Eagles when senior Kirkland Bryant returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Don Bosco 44. They couldn’t capitalize, however, as the Ironmen forced a three-and-out. Once the Ironmen got the ball, they methodically marched 80 yards on 12 plays, capped by 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jabrill Peppers.
“The offense had to just keep staying on them, keep pressing and keep pressing,” said Peppers. “And we broke ‘em.”
St. Edward failed to gain any yards on its next three plays, but senior Anthony Young kept the drive alive with a 32-yard run off a fake punt. But Don Bosco junior lineman Razohnn Gross stopped the Eagles’ momentum by sacking St. Edward junior quarterback Ryan Fallon on third down.
The Ironmen then went 70 yards in only 1:21 as senior Elijah Shumate pushed the score to 14-0 with a 9-yard run. Bosco senior quarterback Mike Yankovich connected on all seven of his passes in the first quarter for 100 yards, while senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo hauled in four passes for 43 yards.
Any thoughts of St. Edward gaining any momentum back ended on the Eagles’ first drive of the second quarter when Gross crushed Fallon from behind, forcing a fumble that Don Bosco senior defensive end Mike Strizak returned 40 yards for the score.
St. Edward cut the lead to 21-7 on a 6-yard pass from Fallon to senior Quincy Jones with 4:42 remaining in the half. But the Ironmen pushed the lead to 28-7 with a 1-yard run by Peppers with 25 seconds left. Peppers set up the score by picking off Fallon and returning it 23 yards to the St. Edward 2-yard line.
Peppers added his third 1-yard touchdown run of the game on the first play of the fourth and finished with 38 yards on the ground, while Yankovich completed 15-of-20 passes for 165 yards.
Meanwhile, St. Edward, which faces POWERADE FAB 50 No. 42 St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) next Saturday, got 68 rushing yards from junior running back Dwayne Aaron and 61 receiving yards from Jones.
“A loss like this makes you look in the mirror and figure out what you have to do to be No. 1, to be where Don Bosco is at,” said St. Edward coach Rick Finotti.
Don Bosco is off next week and will play Passaic County Tech (Wayne, N.J.) on Oct. 21. But don’t think the Ironmen will lose any focus, even with their brutal out-of-state schedule now complete.
“We’ll be back at it,” said Yankovich. “The coaches will be after us and we’ll be preparing. We’re going to close this out the right way.”
What It Means for Next Week’s FAB 50
What stands out from this game is the margin of victory by Don Bosco against a defending Division I state champion from Ohio, which is a major football state. This was the last of the major state vs. state games and it shows again how hard it is for the visiting team to win in these contests. However, earlier in the season, Bosco was on the road against nationally ranked Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) and won. And this victory adds to Bosco’s growing list of impressive wins against national opponents. Meanwhile, though St. Edward lost to the No. 1 team in the nation, the margin of victory will probably drop the Eagles to the 20s.
Mark Tennis contributed to this report