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BC 2nd half rally falls short against IMG Academy (FL)

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj)

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj)


Like a couple of heavyweight boxers duking it out at Crusader Stadium in Oradell, the Bergen Catholic Crusaders and IMG Academy(FL) Ascenders put on an offensive fireworks display. The two squads combining for 106 total points and 961 total yards of offense but IMG Academy managed to chalk up a wild 59-47 victory.

The Ascenders have 10 senior players that rank as some of the highest high school football recruits in the country.

This marked the highest-scoring game in Bergen Catholic history.

After a Tony Jones four-yard touchdown, BC marched down the field resulting in a two-yard score from Ryan McCarthy but the two-point conversion failed, making it 52-39 with 5:46 remaining in the game. The Crusaders defense stepped up stopping the Ascenders on a fourth and two. Seizing upon the momentum, Bergen Catholic drove down the field, aided by a key facemask penalty on the IMG defense. Senior QB Jarrett Guarantano, bound for Tennessee, stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 30-yard strike to Gene Coleman down the middle of the seam making it 52-45. Going for the 2-point conversion, Guarantano hooked up with Korab Idrizi.

Bergen Catholic attempted an onside kick with 2:35 left but Ascenders cornerback Savion Smith recovered the ball at midfield. IMG Academy Senior QB Shea Patterson, the top-ranked QB in the Class of 2016 and nation’s No.1 ranked recruit overall who is bound for Mississippi, connected on a 17-yard pass to Kerrick Hahn. From that point on, Jordan Anthony took over, scampering 32 yards to the 1-yard line before punching it in to seal the victory for the Ascenders with 1:05 left in the fourth and final quarter.

“They were just too talented to make some of the mistakes we made,” said Bergen Catholic Head Coach Nunzio Campanile. “A couple of special teams gaffes and a turnover for a touchdown. We took some chances on special teams and defense in the 2nd half.”

The Crusaders took the second half opening kickoff and drove the length of the field. On a second and five, from the IMG 35 yard line, Guarantano hit junior wide receiver Andre Vito in stride on a crossing pattern across the middle of the field and Vito did the rest sprinting down the right sideline for the score making it 35-21. Guarantano had an outstanding day going 30 for 38 and 379 yards while rushing for one TD and throwing four more.

However, the Ascenders answered quickly on the ensuing kickoff which ended up being a short one allowing wide receiver Emmanuel Greene to pick up the ball and gallop to the house for the tally pushing the lead back to 21 pts. Back came BC on their next possession as Guarantano threaded the needle finding Sr. Frankie Feaster for a 16-yard touchdown. After IMG kicker Enrique Aguayo booted home a 37-yard field goal late in the third quarter, the Crusaders swiftly responded with a lengthy drive. Guarantano ended up coming out of the game with an injury but Fr. Running back Josh McKenzie busted through for a 2-yard TD making it 45-33 but the 2-pt. conversion failed.

“Our kids kept fighting and we have a sign on our door, Hardest Working Team in America,” said Nunzio Campanile. “We take a lot of pride in our conditioning and mental toughness. We felt they had not played full games so we could push them to a limit and wear them down.”

After both teams went three and out to start the game, IMG got the ball at the Bergen Catholic 39-yard line. Tony Jones 20 yard run and pass interference called on the Crusaders landed the ball at the 2-yard line. Patterson QB sneak put the Ascenders up 7-0. BC roared back helped out by several penalties called on the IMG defense plus pounding the ball on the ground with Guarantano and Sr. running back Ryan McCarthy. On first and goal at the 2-yard with 1:11 left in the first quarter, Guarantano romped through for the score but the extra point was blocked.

The Ascneders wasted little time on their next possession. On a second and 10 from their own 34-yard line Patterson rifled a pass to Kerrick Hahn who gashed down the left sideline for 59 yards. With ball at the 7-yard line Patterson rolled out and found Greene in the back of the end zone for the score. BC not to be undone moved the ball on their next possession with the big play coming on a 33-yard pass play from Guarantano to Sr. Korab Idrizi. On a third and seven at the IMG 29-yard line, Guarantano fired a 29-yard bullet to Johnny Langan. Going for the 2-point conversion, Guarantano found Idrizi in the back corner of the end zone tying the game up at 14-14.

“That is the best game I have ever seen Jarrett play,” said Nunzio Campanile. “He made great decisions and protected the ball. At the same time he took chances and played smart.”

Bergen Catholic attempted a squib kick but turned out to be disastrous as Ascenders Sr. wide receiver Drake Davis scooped up the ball and raced down the left sideline making it 21-14 IMG. After the Crusaders were forced into a three and out, Patterson heaved a 70-yard bomb to Greene extending the lead to 28-14. BC was driving for a score late in the half but McCarthy fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line with Sr. Rashaun Smith rumbling back for a 79-yard dagger that widened the margin to 35-14. Patterson completed 8 of 16 passes for 202 yards and two scores while running another one in.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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