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NY Post - Stepinac Advances to AAA title game

Posted Sunday, November 13, 2011 by jstaszewski

Stepinac beats Xaverian in OT thriller for first-ever 'AAA' final berth

Last Updated: 3:23 AM, November 13, 2011

Posted: 1:04 AM, November 13, 2011

 

History was rolling on the field for Archbishop Stepinac to grab.

Austin Taps reached over the top and knocked the ball loose at the 2-yard line from a diving Zach Kearney on first down. Shane Hogan pounced on the fumble and the second-seeded Stepinac bench charged the field in celebration of its 27-21 overtime win over No. 3 Xaverian in the CHSFL Class AAA semifinals Saturday in White Plains.

“The one thing going through my mind was please don’t let this slip through my hands,” Hogan said.

The play came immediately after Stepinac quarterback Mark White (17 carries, 114 yards) scored from 7 yards out on the opening possession of overtime, but the extra point was blocked to give his team a 27-21 lead. His defense made it stand up and the Crusaders are headed to their first ever ‘AAA’ title game after spending most of their recent time as an ‘AA’ club. They face perennial champion St. Anthony’s on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Stepinac's Vincent Narog is emotional after defeating Xaverian in overtime.
An Rong Xu
Stepinac's Vincent Narog is emotional after defeating Xaverian in overtime.
Photos: Xaverian-Archbishop Stepinac
Xaverian's Zach Kearney in tears after losing to Stepinac .
An Rong Xu
Xaverian's Zach Kearney in tears after losing to Stepinac .
Photos: Xaverian-Archbishop Stepinac
The Stepinac team is exuberant after winning in overtime.
 
The Stepinac team is exuberant after winning in overtime.
Photos: Xaverian-Archbishop Stepinac
 

“That was the best way to do it,” White said. “I waited a whole lifetime for this moment right here.”

Stepinac (8-2), which led 21-7 late in the third quarter after Vincent Narog took a 75-yard reverse for a touchdown, nearly let the game slip away thanks to five turnovers and two missed field goals.

Kearney ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries and collected 116 yards in the air, including a 10-yard TD pass to Tushaun Plummer to tie the score at 21-21 with 7:52 left in the fourth for Xaverian (7-3). The score came after a Plummer forced a fumble after Daniel Hoffer, who also had a 13-yard touchdown run, connected with Justin Thomas for a 55-yard gain down to the Xaverian 10-yard line.

“It’s been the story of our year,” Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell said. “Every time we turn the ball over we get ourselves in trouble. We did it again to today.”

Xaverian nearly won the game at the end of regulation after another Stepinac fumble. With less than 20 seconds left on fourth down from the Crusaders 42, X-Men coach Joe DeSiena had the perfect play call of a pass to Plummer down the middle of the field. He got a step on his man, but Kearney’s pass was a little high and slipped off a diving Plummer’s finger tips.

“I haven’t seen too many balls go that guy's way that don't come down in his hand,” DeSiena said.

He credited Stepinac defensive ends Garfield Heslop and Taps for controlling their running game to the outside. Running between the tackles also proved futile. DeSiena told Kearney after the game that he would call the same play again on their first possession of overtime because they wouldn’t have been in that position without him.

“For a second I thought he was going to get in, but we stopped him” Taps said.

O’Donnell and the players called it one of the best games they’ve been a part. The kids felt that they had something to prove after most pundits picked the Clippers to not only advance to the title game, but win the whole thing.

Instead it is Stepinac playing for the ultimate prize.

“It’s a great feeling,” Taps said. “There is not a feeling better than this other than winning a championship.”

jstaszewski@nypost.com

 


Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/high_school/football/stepinac_beats_xaverian_final_berth_wRtnIsP9cBxSIo7CRVsqsJ#ixzz1daQUsQDC

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