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St. Joseph’s blanks Bergen Catholic 13-0 in Non-Public Group 4 Final

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Mother Nature decided rain would once again play a factor in a match-up between Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph (Montvale), but this time on a far bigger stage in the Non-Public Group 4 Final at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night. The Crusaders (10-2) were attempting back-to-back state championships while the Green Knights (10-2) were attempting to avenge a regular season loss on their home field and state title defeat to DePaul Catholic last year in the Non-Public Group 3 Final at Kean University.

With torrential downpours from the onset, the miserable conditions wreaked havoc immediately as Bergen Catholic punter Pierson Tobia mishandled the ball while attempting to kick the ball away allowing St. Joe’s to take over the ball at the Crusaders 21.

The Green Knights were unable to punch the ball into the end zone but had an x-factor in senior placekicker Angelo Guglielmello booting home a 35-yard field goal with less than nine minutes remaining. With the field goal, Guglielmello tied the state record of 249 total points set by Ramapo’s Ricky Krautman.

After St. Joe’s defense forced a punt, the offense went to work as quarterback Michael Alaimo connected on a 57-yard pass to wide receiver Gavin Sharkey advancing the ball to the Bergen Catholic 12. On third and goal at the three, running back Audric Estime busted through the line into the end zone with less than four minutes remaining. With the extra point, Gugliemello broke the record set by Krautman.

A Bergen Catholic offense that had scored 77 points in two playoffs had difficulty stringing together sustained drives. The Green Knights defensive line clogged the running lanes while harassing quarterback Andrew Boel into making unnecessary throws including a pick by Conor Grieco. St. Joe’s defense held the Crusaders to 35 yards of total offense in the first half.

Taking over the ball at their own 36 with left in the second quarter, the St. Joe’s offense churned out yards on the ground thanks to the running of Estime and Te’Rai Powell. Unable to cross the goal line with fourth and goal at the two-yard line, Guglielmello came up in the clutch knocking home a 19-yard field goal with 2:12 left that gave him 253 career points.

“Angelo has been a tremendous weapon for us for a long time and for him to break the record tonight I’m so happy for him and did a tremendous job and going to have a great college career,” said Head Coach Augie Hoffmann.”

In the second half both teams exchanged punts but the Crusaders had more of an uphill challenge moving the ball down the field thanks to the punting of Alaimo pinning the ball deep in Bergen Catholic territory. Boel absorbed more punishment as Howard Cross and Smith Vilbert combined on a pair of sacks.

Elijuwan Mack sealed the victory intercepting a Boel pass in the remaining seconds of the fourth quarter as Bergen Catholic was shutout fort the first time in 29 years and by the Green Knights. St. Joe’s defense limited the Crusaders offense to 152 yards of offense, eight first downs and running back Rahmir Johnson to 58 yards on 17 carries. This marked Hoffmann’s second state title but first in the Non-Public Group 4.

“They put everything into this, we are demanding on them and they stepped up tonight and couldn’t ask more for this group,” said Hoffmann. “Everyone has been talking of the last time we faced them in the finals was 20 years ago.”

“We made them uncomfortable at the QB position, brought more pressure than we normally do and our defensive front is going to be good as it can be. Hats off to the defense for allowing us to play on a short field and able to finish and shut out that group and couldn’t be happier. We get back to work in six weeks but going to enjoy this for a while.”

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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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