Team VH Insider
Paramus Catholic vs Bergen Catholic
Game Of The Week
“I felt possessed today,” he said. “I was on a mission. I was hurt after those two losses. Any good team bounces back through adversity. I knew today was the day I had to wake up and answer the call and I feel I did that today.”
The go-ahead score clearly pumped up the Crusaders and the defense held the Paladins to a three-and-out on their next offensive possession.
McKenzie and company drove down the field again, earning three first downs and scoring on a 1-yard run by McKenzie to boost the lead to 24-14 with 2:39 to go in the game. He finished with 143 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“While I thought a lot of guys play great Josh kind of took it to another level,” Campanile said. “Starting with that run the last play of the half (a 33-yard gain), he played like a man possessed. Johnny [Langan] put together a couple of great runs and so did Rahmir [Johnson]. The line did a great job.”
Junior Anthony Corbin picked off a Paladins pass on PC’s next possession and ran down to the 6-yard line. One play later Johnson ran it in from there to complete the Crusaders’ 31-14 victory.
“The plan all week was to have the three of them (Johnson, Langan and McKenzie) run the ball,” Campanile said. “We took Josh and gave him a much lighter load on defense. He’d been playing every down on defense. I think we have the two best backs (Johnson, McKenzie) around. I don’t think there is anybody like those guys.”
Bergen Catholic had taken a 7-0 lead five minutes into the first quarter when Langan hooked up with junior tight end Tyler Devera for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Junior kicker Michael Kearney made it 10-0 early in the second quarter with a 24-yard field goal.
Paramus Catholic cut the lead to 10-7 with a 63-yard TD drive that consumed 5:26 off the clock and culminated with a 16-yard run by senior running back Christian Matthews-Byrd.
The Paladins took the lead on the opening possession of the second half.
Senior Xavier Briggs-Devore got PC off to a great start on the first play with a 37-yard gain to the Bergen 28. On fourth down senior quarterback Shelton Applewhite found senior tight end Henry Pearson for a 12 yard gain to earn a first down at the 13-yard line.
Briggs-Devore ran it in from there to give Paramus Catholic a 14-10 lead.
The Crusaders entered this game on a two-game losing streak. After defeating DePaul on opening day, they lost to Archbishop Wood and Mater Del (at Santa Ana, CA) on consecutive weeks.
They knew the game against Paramus Catholic was extremely important.
“It was as big a game as we’ve ever had,” said Campanile. “We told our kids that the second the game ended last week. I told a bunch of people I’ve played against more than 10 top teams in the country. That’s the third time we’ve played the No. 1 team in America. That team was on another level. They were something different.”
“It was a true learning experience,” McKenzie said of the trip to California. “We learned a lot about ourselves as a team and as individuals. We went back to work Monday to prepare for PC. They’re a really good team, a well-coached team. We’re resilient. We go back to work and we’re not going to let anything stop us.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the teams. Paramus Catholic travels to St. Peter’s Sept. 29, while Bergen welcomes No. 1 St. Joe’s to its Oradell campus Sept. 30.
“Every game in this league is a war,” McKenzie said. “Week in and week out there is no team in this league you can take lightly. It just goes to show the competition we play – it’s a dog fight out there – us against them.”
“I think our guys had to know we are a great football team and we can beat great teams,” said Campanile. “I think getting the opportunity to get out there and play really meant a lot to them to win a tough game like that.”
Article By JC Baumuller
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