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It came down to the final second of a seemingly-endless day, but Stepinac captured the its own 7 on 7 tournament trophy.
The Crusaders rallied back in the final minutes of the Stepinac 7 on 7 Passing Tournament, defeating CHSAA rival Fordham Prep as quarterback Daniel Hoffer hit Tariq Stovall on a 2-yard touchdown pass and then decisive 2-point conversion.
A wild championship matchup between Stepinac and Fordham Prep capped an entertaining afternoon in the first annual event. The tournament featured 10 teams — including New Rochelle, Kennedy (NYC), Tuckahoe, Mamaroneck, Pleasantville, New Canaan, Greenwich, Masuk.
After round-robin play narrowed the field to a four-team playoff, Stepinac defeated Kennedy in the semifinals and Fordham Prep outlasted New Rochelle.
Fordham Prep, led by quarterback James McHale and receiver James Drago, twice had a two-touchdown advantage on the Crusaders, who appeared out of gas after six long contests.
But Hoffer’s third touchdown pass of the title game cut the deficit to 28-21 with under three minutes to play, giving Fordham the ball back.
Hoffer, who’s strictly an offensively player, begged Stepinac assistant coach Joe Spagnolo to go in on defense. Spagnolo relented and, on the third play, the 6-2, 195-pounder stepped in front of a pass for the interception.
Hoffer led the Crusaders down the field, completing a pass to the 3-yard line with 10 seconds left. A Fordham Prep player, however, went down with an injury, allowing the running clock to expire. But the referee allowed Stepinac to have one final play, which Hoffer rifled to Stovall for the score.
Instead of taking the extra point and going to overtime, Stepinac opted for the win. Hoffer, who’s one of the top returning quarterbacks in the region, threw a gorgeous timing pattern pass to a leaping Stovall, who caught the pass over a defender to win the tournament.
Stepinac went a perfect 6-0 on the day.
Check back soon for video interviews and more analysis from the Stepinac 7 on 7 Passing Tournament
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org