Stepinac falls short, loses in overtime
By JUSTIN JONES
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: September 23, 2007)
WHITE PLAINS - Stepinac head football coach Mike O'Donnell came across a situation where he had to make a decision.
The game was in overtime and his team just answered back with a touchdown, but the defense was starting to wear down and the Crusaders' kicking game hadn't successfully made a point-after attempt so far this season.
So what to do?
Go for 2 points and the win or line the guys up and put it all on your kicker. Coach O'Donnell opted for the first option and went for it but the Crusaders came up a few inches short.
Junior quarterback Joseph Collins rolled to the near sideline and let a pass go that just grazed the fingertips of his intended receiver and fell incomplete in their 19-18 overtime loss to Holy Cross in a CHSFL Class AA game yesterday at Stepinac.
"We haven't made a kick all year so sending out the kicking unit was not an option," O'Donnell said. "I thought going for it gave us the highest chance of winning the game. They're a tough team and we just came up short."
Stepinac relied heavily on their sophomore ''Mr. Everything,'' Maurice Easterling, and he delivered the goods every time his number was called. He carried the ball 25 times for 113 yards and a touchdown against the big and physical Knights defense.
His 6-yard rushing touchdown, which came in overtime, set the Crusaders up to go for the win.
Easterling also had his hands on the other two Stepinac touchdowns, making two incredible leaping grabs over Holy Cross defenders for touchdowns.
"I just told coach that I had one-on-one coverage and just let Joseph throw it up to me. I'll go and go get it," Easterling said.
Easterling definitely brought his 'A' game, but his offensive efforts were matched by Holy Cross senior running back Daryl Whiting. Whiting - a 6-foot-3, 200-pound physical beast - pounded the Crusaders' defense all game long. His mix of power, size, and speed was a little too much for the gutsy Stepinac defense.
Whiting, many times carrying three and four defenders along for the ride, finished the day with 169 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
"I was just focused out there today. We were coming off an emotional loss last week and we just wanted this game," Whiting said.
He carried his efforts into the overtime and set up teammate Barrington Wallace for what proved to be the game-winning 8-yard run, which, with the PAT, made the score 19-12 at that point.
"It just felt good to help the team win," said Wallace, a sophomore. "It was a physical game out there today but we played hard. The difference though was Daryl."
Stepinac played for the third straight week without their star senior running back, Rashaad Slowley, but he is expected to return to action next week from a high ankle sprain suffered against Nazareth, according to coach O'Donnell.