The Game At A Glance: St. Joe's (Montvale) jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead by scoring a touchdown each on offense, defense, and special teams, before pulling away to a 49-6 victory over Bergen Catholic.
First Half Highlights: The game was off to a bad start for St. Joe's when Quai Jefferson fielded the opening kickoff on the 2 yard line and his knee hit the ground. They got out of the shadow of their own end zone when Spencer Aukamp went 20 yards on the opening play on a quarterback keeper. They made it as far as the BC 40 and were forced to punt. The defense forced a three and out which included two sacks and then Mark Fossati blocked the punt, with Joseph Giles-Harris recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Bergen picked up a first down, but Devin Civerdini intercepted for St. Joe's and returned it to the 48 of St. Joe's. The following play, Aukamp found RJ Edwards for a 52 yard score and Joe's was up 14-0 with three minutes left in the quarter. Two plays later, Giles-Harris intercepted and went 50 yards for the touchdown and it was 21-0 in the first quarter.
Joe's had a couple of chances late in the second quarter, but turned it over on downs on one possession and missed a 42 yard field goal attempt at the end of the half.
Second Half Highlights: Giles-Harris intercepted a pass on the second play of the quarter, giving Joes' the ball on the BC 27. They scored when Aukamp found Fossati in the corner of the end zone for a 9 yard score. Joe's made it 35-0 and bought the game to a running clock when Spencer Alston scored from one yard out. They made it 42-0 when Fossati intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 39 yards for the score.
Bergen Catholic got on the board when Corey Russo went 11 yards through the middle. The two point pass failed and it was 42-6 with seven minutes to go. Joe's closed out the scoring when Jack Walsh found Tristan DeRosa for an 8 yard touchdown.
Play Of The Game: Fossati blocking the punt, with Giles-Harris scoring opened up the scoring and gave an indication on what the game was going to be like. Their two sacks before the blocked punt set things up.
Game Balls: The St. Joe's defense, especially the front eight, did a great job applying pressure with six sacks and four interceptions, keeping Bergen's offense out of a rhythm. Fossati scored a touchdown on offense and defense, while contributing to the special teams touchdown by blocking the punt. Giles-Harris scored touchdowns on special teams and defense, while intercepting two passes and being a force on the pass rush. Aukamp did a very good job running and throwing. The list can grow, but it was an overall team effort and the St. Joe's defensive front dominated Bergen's offensive line.
St. Joe's head coach Tony Karcich - "Our first game of the year against DeMatha was clearly our best effort, but this tonight was a hell of an effort. We got bogged down a little, offensively, but give Bergen credit - they mixed things up. Our defense was consistent all night. Our special teams were good, we blocked a punt for a touchdown, but the defense set the tables tonight. These kids just turned it on tonight. The key to our defense is right in the middle. We have two great defensive tackles in Anthony Paolello and Kevin Wilkins. Paolello was an awesome defensive end, but moved inside for the sake of the team. Right behind them are the two best linebackers in the league in Fossati and Dominic Carfagno, so we're very strong in the middle. We have Giles-Harris and Conrad Fitzpatrick on the outside, so have very good distribution. We have room to improve, but it was a good effort tonight. I thought we were the better team on paper, but we got good pressure up front and the quarterback was running for his life all night, which forced turnovers."
Tony Karcich commenting on Joseph Giles-Harris - "He just brings so much to the table. We were going to move him to defensive end, but he makes so many plays at linebacker, that we decided to keep him there and I'm glad we decided that. He made plays for us last year as a sophomore and was not overwhelmed by the challenge."
St. Joe's fullback/linebacker Mark Fossati - "We were able to get some different kinds of stunts to confuse them. We were working on that and that's one of the benefits of the bye week. We were able to work on our game a little more and get some pressure on the quarterback. It all starts with the defensive line. The secondary also did a good job because we had a few coverage sacks. We were able to swarm to the ball all night."
St. Joe's linebacker Joseph Giles-Harris - "We had two weeks to prepare for them and we had two great weeks of practice leading up to the game. Our defensive line created great pressure; that's the only reason I made those plays. We didn't take them lightly at all; they had two losses, but they're a good team. I just try to do my job and I know my teammates are behind me, helping me."