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Paramus Catholic vs Don Bosco
Game Of The Week

Paramus Catholic scored a two-point conversion in overtime to get past Don Bosco, 22-21, Friday night.
“It’s a play we run a lot,” said Paladins coach Dan Sabella. “It’s a counter play and you have to  get a yard and a half, two yards. You have to trust your guys and we got it by a couple of inches.”

The play was a culmination of a great comeback as the Paladins rallied from being down, 14-7, late in the fourth quarter.

After the defense held the Ironmen to a three-and-out Paramus Catholic took possession of the ball at their own 42 with 2:49 to go in the game.


Senior quarterback Shelton Applewhite went right to work, completing passes to junior wide receiver Mohammed Toure (for 14 yards), senior tight end Henry Pearson (10 yards) and senior wide receiver/kicker Robbie Gomez (14 yards) to get the ball to the Bosco 19-yard line.
A pass to junior wide receiver Andy Ambroise got the ball down to the 11-yard line. After a Don Bosco timeout Paladins senior running back Xavier Briggs-Devore gained six yards to the 5-yard line and on the next play he scored the touchdown that made it 14-13. Gomez drilled his second extra point of the game and the game was tied with 1:25 to go in regulation.

Bosco excited the crowd when sophomore quarterback Jahquil Batts completed a pass to junior wide receiver Christian Dremel good for 45 yards deep into Paramus Catholic territory. The Ironmen got the ball to the 18-yard line and lined up for the winning field goal with a few seconds left on the clock.
But the kick sailed wide left and the teams headed to overtime. Don Bosco got the ball first and made it look easy. Sophomore running back Jalen Berger, who had scored both of Bosco’s touchdowns with long runs, took a handoff, rolled right and tossed a 25-yard TD pass to sophomore wide receiver Kieran Reynolds, who was wide open. The extra point was good and Bosco led, 21-14.

“Going into the overtime you hope you can get a stop,” said Sabella. “It was a great call by them - that gadget play they ran on first down. You want to get a stop but we had some confidence coming off those last couple of drives so we started to click there finally. Better late than never.”
The Paladins took possession and Applewhite gained six yards on a run and another five with a pass to Pearson. On first-and-10 from the 14, Briggs-Devore was stopped for no gain. Applewhite threw an incomplete pass to bring up third down.Applewhite dropped back and threw a pass to Ambroise who spun away from and juked around tacklers to get to the end zone and cut the Bosco lead to 21-20.

As Gomez went out to kick the extra point, the Ironmen called timeout. During the timeout they incurred an “illegal substitution” violation which moved the ball from inside the 3-yard line to inside the 2-yard line. Gomez came off the field and Sabella sent the offense back on the field.
“It was great to answer the score,” Sabella said. “And we were going to kick it and send it into the second overtime but that penalty changed it.”
“[For] that two-point conversion I was telling Coach Sabella ‘we can do it, we can do it.’ He wanted to play it safe and tie it up,” said Pearson. “When they got that penalty we knew we had to do it. Go big or go home.”

Applewhite handed the ball to Briggs-Devore. “My mindset was just get in,” said Briggs-Devore. “I had to carry my team on my back. I couldn’t let them down at that point in the game. When my number is called I never give up. I looked, I saw a hole and it closed. But a later hole opened up. I hit it as soon as I could, stretched the ball out and got in the end zone.”

“I saw him go in and I saw the ball pop out,” said Pearson, “so I had to immediately jump on it.” Briggs-Devore fell across the goal line, the ball squirted loose and the officials did not immediately make a call. “[As I was waiting for the call] I was thinking there was no doubt I got the ball over the plane and I scored for my team to get on top,” Briggs-Devore said. “At first I didn’t see the hands go up,” added Pearson. “It took a second or two and I was like, ‘what are you doing here, come on.’ Then I saw them go up and I jumped up with joy. I couldn’t believe it.”

The Paladins struck first in the game, taking the opening possession and going on a scoring drive covering 79 yards in 15 plays in just over four minutes. Briggs-Devore made it 7-0 with a 3-yard run. The defenses took over the game for about 11 minutes. Senior safety Kevin Brennan intercepted a pass for Bosco and senior defensive back Ray Minneci did likewise for the Paladins.

With a little more than five minutes to go in the first half, however, Berger took the snap in a wildcat formation, burst through the middle and outran the Paramus Catholic defense for a 69-yard TD run, tying the game at 7-all. In the first minute of the second half Berger did it again - this time with a 78-yard run to make it 14-7.
So even though the Paladins were dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, they were trailing in the game. “We talked about that a lot at halftime,” Sabella said. “It was one big play then and the first drive of the second half they popped another one on us. That’s football. Fortunately our ‘D’ kept us in it, especially in the fourth quarter. We had just enough.”

“That’s just the game of football,” added Pearson. “Stuff is going to happen you just have to battle through it. You can’t quit, you just have to keep pushing.”
Bosco maintained its lead until the fireworks began late in the fourth quarter. “Both teams battled to the end,” Sabella said. “The defense kept us in it. We had a bunch of opportunities in the first half and even more in the second half where we couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.
“Finally there at the end we tied it up and got it into overtime.” The Paramus Catholic victory marked the seventh consecutive win the Paladins have over the Ironmen.
“Seven times in a row,” Pearson said, “is something I don’t think any school in the country has ever done, especially against a team the caliber of Don Bosco. That’s the greatest accomplishment you can ask for.”

“It means we never give up,” Briggs-Devore said of the streak. “Even when we’re down, when our record is not good and we haven’t been playing well, we just can’t give up. We have to come back and overcome adversity at all times.”

Article By JC Baumuller


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