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Slowley, Stepinac enjoy Turkey Bowl win
By JUSTIN JONES
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 22, 2007)
WHITE PLAINS - Rashaad Slowley had most of the soldout crowd - easily over 2,000 fans - in attendance chattering about his flashy yet powerful running style.
He made sure to put on one last show in that No. 5 Crusader uniform and to be sure, nobody will be asking for a refund.
Slowley carried the ball 21 times for 169 yards and two rushing touchdowns and threw a key touchdown pass in Stepinac's 26-13 win over White Plains in yesterday's 37th annual Turkey Bowl between the rival schools at Parker Stadium.
"We came out a little flat but we started to pick things up towards the second half," said Slowley, who was presented with the sportsmanship award for the Crusaders after the game. "The atmosphere is always crazy during this game so it feels great to go out with the win my last year here."
Slowley demonstrated his big-play ability on the opening drive for the Crusaders (10-2). On just his second carry and Stepinac's third play, Slowley took the handoff up the middle into a wall of Tiger defenders, bounced it to the near sidelines and took off on an amazing 76-yard touchdown run.
He later would throw a nice 23-yard pass off a halfback option to sophomore Maurice Easterling (six receptions, 68 yards, two TD's) right as time expired before the half, giving the Crusaders a 12-7 lead and changing the momentum of the game for good.
"The offense really came out dead so our defense stepped it up a bit until we started to execute like we've been doing in the past" Easterling said. "On both touchdown catches, Rashaad and Joseph (Collins) just threw the ball up and I just went up to go get them."
The Crusaders would add 14 more points - Slowley's second touchdown and Easterling's second touchdown reception - before White Plains got their final touchdown on a 9-yard throw from senior quarterback Michael Howard to Maurice Thomas. It was Howard's second touchdown pass of the day.
"I thought our kids played really hard today but we just made a couple of mistakes that changed the game," White Plains head coach Michael "Skip" Stevens said. "That pass right before halftime really hurts us because it came off a turnover (a muffed punt). Not to downgrade past Stepinac teams, but this is the best Stepinac team that I've seen since I've been the coach here, so you have to give them credit."
White Plains (3-6) got a solid running game from senior back Raymond Mitchell (11 carries for 54 yards rushing) who was awarded the sportsmanship award for the Tigers.
Their second consecutive Turkey Bowl victory capped a season in which the Crusaders were the CHSFL AA Division champs.
"This game is a great community event," Stepinac head coach Mike O'Donnell said. It's a special day for both teams. It was a perfect day and it's nice to win for a second straight year.
"This group of guys love to play and it seemed like the last nine weeks have flown by. Rashaad is a special kid and ever since he's come back from his high ankle sprain we've won nine straight games and 10 games on the season which is most wins in a season in school history, so I can't say enough about how they wanted this game."