Archbishop Stepinac was just yards away from seeing its dream of reaching its first CHSFL AAA title game slip away.
After committing five turnovers in Saturday’s CHSFL semifinal game against Xaverian, luck — or fate — finally went Stepinac’s way in overtime.
After Stepinac went ahead by six in OT, Austin Taps stripped the ball away from Clippers quarterback Zach Kearney on the Stepinac 2-yard line, and the ball was recovered by Shane Hogan to seal the second-seeded Crusaders’ 27-21 win over No. 3 Xaverian in White Plains.
Committing a bunch of turnovers, along with missing two field goals and an extra point, could have cost Stepinac the game. But its fortitude, along with contributions from junior quarterbacl Mark White, who rushed for 114 yards and scored two touchdowns, sent the Crusaders to their first Class AAA title appearance ’s next weekend.
“It’s like a roller coaster today. That was the best way to do it,” White said afterward. “I waited for a whole entire lifetime for a moment like this.”
It is actually the second straight year Stepinac will play for a championship, since the Crusaders were promoted to the “AAA” division this year after going undefeated and winning the “AA” title last season.
Saturday’s game had so many ups and downs.
Stepinac (8-2) looked as if it had control in the third quarter when White scored on a 2-yard run to give the Crusaders a 14-7 lead with 6:65 left .
Vincent Narog increased the advantage to 21-7 as he took a reverse for a 75-yard score.
But a young, and quick, Xaverian team quickly responded.
First, Kearney scored his second rushing touchdown of the day, a 18-yard effort, to cut the deficit to 21-14.
The Clippers then evened the score at 21-21 with 7:52 remaining when Kearney, who rushed for 109 yards and completed 13 of 16 passes for 116 yards , connected with TuShaun Plummer on a 10-yard scoring pass.
After White scored on a 7-yard touchdown run in overtime, the Crusaders had their extra point attempt blocked.
But with Xaverian close to tying the game, and then possibly winning it with an extra point, Hogan recovered Kearney’s fumble.
Now, the Crusaders’ title hopes are alive and well.
“It’s unbelievable,” Hogan said. “We’re not done. We have one more game to go.”