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Patti leads St. Joe’s to 49-13 rout over Red Bank Catholic

Saturday marked not just the final home game of Nick Patti’s career at St. Joseph Regional High School and Robert Joseph Dinallo Stadium but triggered memories for Patti after his freshman year with the Green Knights. That marked the last league game against Red Bank Catholic and Patti remembering all the seniors crying after a 44-14 defeat.

St. Joe’s wasted no time establishing its dominance over the Caseys in the Non-Public Group 3 quarterfinal. Sparked by an opening 57-yard kickoff return by Gavin Sharkey, it just took 56 seconds for the Green Knights to take the lead with Jaden Budka (6 carries for 59 yards) reversing course after being initially stopped at the line of scrimmage and diving across the right pylon for the score. However, the extra point kick by Angelo Guglielmello was no good.

Budka contributed on defense as well picking off Red Bank Catholic quarterback Steve Lubischer on the ensuing series at midfield and returning the ball to the 30-yard line. Patti went to work completing a 16-yard pass to wide receiver setting up first and goal at the 7-yard line. One play later Patti stretched the ball across for the touchdown. Lining up for the extra point, back-up quarterback Michael Alaimo faked out the defense and ran in the two-point conversion successful extending the lead to 14-0 with 7:46 left.

“It was most important and we talked about it all week when we start early, put points on the board and make the other team play from behind,” said St. Joseph Head Coach Augie Hoffmann. “Jayden (Budka) is a special kid and done a great job as a senior and dangerous when he has the ball in his hands and plays great defense and happy to see him have a good day. Patti is the reason why we are here and orchestrated some great fourth quarter comebacks and ride him all the way through.”

In the second quarter, St. Joseph displayed aggressiveness going for it on fourth and one at their own 27 and coming away successfully as running back Isaiah Hopkinson bursting through the line for eight yards. Facing a third and four at the Caseys 44, Budka broke through for 17 additional yards. Patti flashed the quick strike ability launching a 27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fara’ad McCombs with 9:01 left.

With time winding down in the second half, St. Joe’s took advantage of botched snap on a punt. Starting out at the Red Bank Catholic 44, Patti connected on a 20-yard pass to Berry. Facing a second and 10 at the 14, Patti scrambled out of the pocket and with one cleat sprinted into the end zone increasing the margin to 28-0 with 30.8 seconds on the clock.

The Green Knights employed some trickery to start the second half with a surprise onside kick and recovering the ball successfully. On third and 12 at the Caseys 48, Patti fired a pass to Matthew Alaimo who made a nifty one handed grab and proceeded to race down the left sidelines for a 32-yard gain. Two plays later Patti (9 for 18, 133 yards) capped off his stellar day by rolling out and hooking up with Berry on his 4th touchdown of the day and second passing near the right pylon.

“I was talking with Jack Walsh who was the quarterback at that time(2014) and said it was huge to get it back for them. Jayden (Budka) is a great team leader and one of the guys we hang on offensively and defensively. We gave him a bigger role carrying the ball this year with a couple of guys down and he stepped up and put us in a couple of good situations.”

“Great seeing senior guys and ton of leaders get us in the right position to win us the game. Our offensive line opened up huge holes for our guys to run through and picked up the late blitzes.”

Next up for St. Joe’s (7-3) is a rematch and semifinal game against the Pope John Lions (6-3) next Saturday in Sparta. When the two teams met in the regular season, St. Joe’s escaped with a 20-14 win at home.

“The function of the teams’ we play on a weekly basis has prepared us for the playoffs,” Hoffmann said. “Going to be a hostile environment and Pope John is a great football team and in a war with them last time. I’m sure we’re going to be prepared and so will they and beating someone twice is hard, played and know each other and going to come down who makes least amount of mistakes and make a play and hoping we’re the ones to do that.”

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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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