The Game At A Glance: In a game that lived up to the hype, St. Joe's (Montvale) jumped out to a 21-0 lead, held off a persistent Bergen Catholic squad, and won in overtime when BC's extra point attempt ended up wide right of the goal post, to earn a 38-37 victory. It was one of the most exciting games a high school football fan could see.
First Half Highlights: After forcing a CB punt, St. Joe's went 55 yards in ten plays to jump out in front, 7-0 on a three yard run by Jeff Farina. A key play in the drive was a 17 yard pass from Spencer Aukamp to Matt Buckman to the 17 on third and seven. The Green Knights ended BC's ensuing drive when Marcus Jemison made a diving interception on the Joe's 45. They went 55 yards again, but needed only four plays, making it 14-0 when Aukamp found Ricky Jeune in the left corner of the end zone with three minutes left in the quarter.
The Crusaders started on its 20 and marched down to a first and goal from the 8 when Jon Germano found Garrett Dickerson for 17 yards, after hitting John Feaster for 23 yards two plays earlier. The Green Knights defense held their ground, but a 32 yard field goal attempt was no good and they took over on the 20. They used eleven plays and over five minutes, scoring when Farina crashed in from three yards out and Joe's was up 21-0 with six and a half minutes left in the half. BC got going when Germano found Feaster for a 46 yard score down the right sideline and the Crusaders were on the board, 21-7 with five minutes left.
Second Half Highlights: After recovering a BC onsides kick and getting the ball on the 50, Joe's gave BC an opportunity when Farina fumbled and the Crusaders recovered on their own 43. Eight plays later, James Dawson scored from the one yard line, cutting the lead to 21-14. The key play was a pass to Kyle Queiro for 20 yards to the 37 on third and 10. Joe's marched into BC territory, but was forced to punt. At that point, the snap sailed over Mark Fossati's head and Dickerson picked it up and set the Crusaders up on the 13. BC stayed on the ground, pulling to within one point when Germano scored from two yards out. After a penalty on the extra point moved the ball closer, BC went for two points when Dawson scored from the wild cat to go in front, 22-21 with four and a half minutes left in the quarter. Joe's went back in front when Fossati kicked a 29 yard field goal with twenty seconds left in the quarter, making it 24-22.
The Joe's defense stopped the following drive when Patrick Mensah intercepted on the one. Two plays later, Farina fumbled the hand off and recovered it in the end zone for a Bergen safety, tying the score at 24. BC had possession after the safety. Moving down the field with Germano finding JJ Kulcsar for 25 yards to the Joe's 46 and then Germano ran 14 yards to the 26. Three plays later, Germano had the ball, but Fossati stripped him and went 76 yards the other way to put Joe's in front, 31-24 with seven minutes left. BC marched again and made it as far as the 4, but a fourth down pass pushed them back two yards and the Green Knights took over. Three plays and out, they punted and Bergen had the ball on the 33 after a 13 yard return by JP Garcia. Four plays later, Germano found Kulcsar for a 16 yard score to knot the score at 31-31 with 1:10 left.
Overtime: Joe's had the first drive and wasted no time when Aukamp found Quai Jefferson over the middle on a crossing pattern, as he raced by defenders and hit the left pylon for the score. Fossati made the extra point for a 38-31 lead. Germano hit Kulcsar for 18 yards to the 11 and then he found Quiero in the end zone for 19 yards and it was 38-37. The successful extra point was nullified by a penalty and the second try was wide right, ending the game and making the Green Knights victorious.
Play Of The Game: The Fossati strip of the ball and 76 yard run for the score was a momentum changer in the fourth quarter.
Game Balls: Fossati was everywhere on the field. He was a standout on defense, caught three passes, kicked both a field goal and the winning extra point. The entire Joe's team came out strong and showed the strength to hold off a Bergen team that would not quit.
St. Joe's head coach Tony Karcich - "It's so hard to single out one guy. It was a total team effort; I'm talking offense, defense, special teams, and the kids on the bench. We were in the game, every play, every snap; there was a sense of urgency. It was a great effort, but I would be remiss if I didn't talk about Bergen's effort. They're deserving of all the accolades they had coming in. We played our A game in the first half and [Bergen] wouldn't go away, but we found a way. It was a great game on both sides. It was a tough game for [Bergen] because they played their hearts out. It was a game someone had to lose and, thank God, we had one more point than they did."
St. Joe's wide receiver Quai Jefferson - "[On the overtime score] I had to catch the ball and I couldn't let my team down. I knew the ball was coming to me when I was coming out of the huddle. When I caught the ball, I didn't know what was going on, I was so excited. I got by the defenders and hit the pylon."
St. Joe's quarterback Spencer Aukamp - "We knew we could beat them. On the winning pass to Jefferson, I made the mistake on the same play against Good Counsel when I should have thrown to him on the last play of that game. This definitely gets rid of some of the demons from that game. Our line is better than theirs, we thought we could pound the ball down their throats, and we did. Mark Fossati is the leader of our team and I can't say enough about him."
St. Joe's running back Jeff Farina - "We had great practices, the best we had all year. Everybody mentions Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco. We're always the third wheel. It was a theme this week, but we knew we were going to win. It was no surprise. We just kept playing and we never gave up."
St. Joe's linebacker/fullback Mark Fossati - "My dad told me in the kitchen to go out and take the ball away from them. I grabbed that ball and went as fast as I could to the end zone. We were able to beat them and we haven't done this in three years. I knew the touchdown in overtime was going to work. That play always works. I knew I had to make that extra point because extra points count so much in overtime. When Bergen missed the extra point - I played with that kid in juniors and I never thought he was going to miss that one. He's a great kicker."