Jays Win in Full Squad Effort at St. Paul’s
No amount of mist or rain could stop the Jesuit (5-4) machine from taking their victory in the first round of the playoffs against St. Paul’s. Grabbing an early lead and refusing to relinquish it against the No. 8 seeded Wolves, the Jays won by a score of 35-6.
The Jesuit offense started with a false start and a 3-yard loss, but those were the only offensive hiccups for the rest of the afternoon for the blue and white. Senior quarterback Luke LaForge marched the offense down the field with clutch third down conversions to senior standout Luke Besh and ended the drive with six.
The touchdown from LaForge to senior Presten Berggren on the opening drive gave Jesuit their first and permanent lead of the contest.
The Jesuit defense made sure that seven points, much less 35, would be enough as the squad constantly applied pressure throughout the rainy evening. Multiple white shirts were in on ever tackle to ensure no extra yardage.
The Wolves scored on their first drive found it impossible to score the rest of the afternoon with junior linebacker Jake Cannizzaro and junior defensive lineman Joseph Barnett constantly around the ball. Barnett finished with 2 and half of Jesuit’s four sacks on the afternoon.
Jesuit defensive backs also made an impact as senior Hayden Morris intercepted a pass, and senior Giovanni Licciardi provided big hits from the safety spot.
When the mist cleared, the defense only allowed six points and 125 total yards on the road against a tough opponent.
Seven points would have been enough for a victory, but the offense did not stop rolling from the opening whistle.
When LaForge had had enough at quarterback, he switched to receiver, and junior Jack Larriviere connected with him for a huge gain down the seam to keep a scoring drive alive. The drive ended with a touchdown run by senior Jordan Hughes to extend the lead to 14-6.
After a forced punt by the Jays with less than nine minutes left in the half, the Besh show began.
Besh went on to score on back-to-back Jesuit drives including being on the receiving end of a double reverse pass from LaForge. Besh ended his tremendous night with eight catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Going into halftime, the Jays carried a 28-6 lead and all the momentum in the outdoor stadium. Jesuit kept the ball on the ground for most of the second half, and both punters saw extensive time as only seven points were scored after the intermission.
LaForge and Larriviere played with poise and determination to keep putting point on the board. LaForge finished with 186 yards passing, three touchdowns, and a critical 41-yard reception. Larriviere added 76 yards in the air and a touchdown.
The Jays played their best total game of the season in a tough environment against a higher-ranked team, all positive signs for a Jesuit squad that has a date with No. 1 ranked Brother Martin.
These teams met earlier in the year and produced one of the most exciting games of the season. Brother Martin ended up coming from behind and winning 45-42 in a clash on the West bank.
If Jesuit can find another total effort on Friday at 7 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium, an exciting matchup can be expected between two heated rivals.