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Crusaders win on Riverso night to go 6-0

Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 by nypost.com

Stepinac crushes St. Peter's on Riverso Night

Crusaders cruise to 40-7 win, off to 6-0 start for first time in at least 29 years

Last Updated: 2:47 AM, October 18, 2009

Posted: 2:07 AM, October 18, 2009

Josh Powell never met Joe Riverso, but the Archbishop Stepinac senior wide receiver understands the importance of the annual game that is played in the former Stepinac player/assistant coach’s memory.

“The Riverso game for every Stepinac player is always the biggest game of the year,” he said. “He did everything for the school. He dedicated 17 years of his life to the school before he died on 9-11, so when this game comes around it means a lot.”

Playing in front of Riverso’s friends and family and in their lone home game under the lights, the Crusaders crushed St. Peter’s, 40-7, Saturday night in White Plains.

It was an appropriate time for Archbishop Stepinac to play its best game of the season.

“I respect what he did and that’s why I played my heart out for him even though I didn’t know him,” quarterback Tyrell Goodman said of Riverso, one of 658 from Cantor Fitzgerald who were killed during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. “I felt the love for him.”

Powell was named the game’s MVP, along with St. Peter’s wide receiver Matt Van Manen, who scored the Eagles’ lone touchdown with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter. Powell had six catches for 179 yards and had three touchdown receptions.

“Josh is a great athlete with great speed,” Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell said. “He takes five-yard strides. I’m glad he won the MVP award. He’s a great kid and he’s got a lot of football ahead of him.”

Goodman was no slouch, either. He was 9-of-19 for 224 yards and had six carries for 30 yards, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns. Not too bad for a first-year quarterback.

“I just want to make a play,” Goodman said. “I’ll do whatever to help my team win.”

Goodman somehow eluded a sack in the backfield for a nine-yard scramble that set up a 1-yard plunge on the Crusaders’ first series. Goodman then hit Powell for a 75-yard score on a bubble pass and Stepinac was quickly in front, 14-0.

The two hooked up for a 40-yard score on the same play late in the second quarter.

“Once he gets the ball, he does what he has to do,” Goodman said of Powell. “Once he gets the ball, he sees end zone and he takes it.”

St. Peter’s (2-3, 2-3 CHSFL AA-A), meanwhile, played its worst game of the season. Quarterback John Woodford was sacked four times and turned the ball over on downs late in the first half when he spiked the ball on fourth down.

Goodson hit James Mullen for a 34-yard touchdown and the Crusaders had a 28-0 halftime lead.

Eagles running back Hakim Rice fumbled three times and rushed for just 45 yards on 16 carries.

“We didn’t play well on both sides of the ball, especially offensively,” St. Peter’s coach Mike Constentino said. “We couldn’t get anything going today.”

Goodman had a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 34-0 with 8:09 left in the third quarter and again connected with Powell for a third TD four minutes later for Stepinac, which is 6-0 for the first time in O’Connell’s 29 years as coach.

“It’s a great accomplishment by these kids,” O’Donnell said.

The threat of inclement weather scared off many of the fans and O’Donnell was also concerned, so much so he moved the junior varsity game to another location to save the grass field from turning into a mud pit.

The rain, though, never came. O’Donnell figures there was some divine intervention.

“I don’t know how it didn’t pour on us,” O’Donnell said. “Joe was looking down on us and he’s smiling right now.”

dbutler@nypost.com

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