Sep 18, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Down by 11 points, on the road, to a team ranked in the state Class AA top 10 and about to face a stiff 30 mile-per-hour wind in the fourth quarter, the Christian Brothers Academy football team found itself in the unfamiliar role of underdog to a confident, mature opponent.
Despite all of those handicaps, though, the Brothers came out on top — and in the process, might have regained its old swagger.
CBA staged this remarkable comeback last Friday night, at Fayetteville-Manlius, partially avenging last year’s bitter first-round playoff defeat to the Hornets by staying calm in adverse conditions and rallying for a 31-21 victory.
If the Brothers go on to any kind of championship glory this fall, it might look back to the final 14 minutes at F-M as the moment where a young team, unsure of its own capabilities, grew up and took charge.
This sequence began with CBA down, 21-10. It had just watched F-M drive 80 yards, into that stiff wind, using nothing but running plays to wear down the Brothers’ defense. When Austin Straub found the end zone from three yards out with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, CBA looked to be done.
In truth, the Brothers had held on all night, aided by a pair of David Marx interceptions and a long string of F-M penalties that negated big gains and likely kept more points off the board.
CBA had gone in front, 7-0, in the first quarter after Marx first picked off a Buddy Leathley pass deep in his own territory. The Brothers marched 75 yards, mixing solid runs with short passes, as Jared DePalma hit Marcus Sales on a 12-yard TD pass up the middle.
However, F-M went in front 14-7 in the second period, mostly relying on its diverse ground game and a size advantage on the offensive line to pile up yards.
Early in the third quarter, Marx picked off Leathley again, and though it couldn’t get the tying TD, the Brothers still got points when Mawuena Agbossoumonde converted on a 27-yard field goal.
F-M’s long, ground-oriented march followed, which swallowed up most of the remaining clock in that period. When CBA got it back on its own 29, it had less than two minutes to do what it could before it lost the wind advantage in the fourth quarter.
Sure enough, the Brothers covered most of that ground with a mix of passes and runs, just as a sprinkling of raindrops was turning into a steady drizzle.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Tom Trasolini scored from five yards out, and a successful two-point conversion made it 21-18. This recharged CBA’s sideline, as it paid no attention to the fact that the light rain had turned into a serious downpour.
The change in weather rattled F-M, though, and on its next possession it mishandled a toss to the right. This allowed Mike Brennan to pounced on the ball at F-M’s 33-yard line.
DePalma coolly converted a fourth down with a running play, then fired a pass through the rain that round Zach Brown, covering 15 yards for the touchdown that put CBA in front for good.
CBA’s defense now stepped up, making key stops, including a fourth-down play at midfield. Trasolini took it from there, breaking several tackles on a back–breaking, 54-yard run that set up his own two-yard TD clincher with 3:04 left.
DePalma, playing the first full game of his varsity career, handled the wind well, going 12-for-22 for 137 yards and avoiding the big mistakes that doomed Leathley and his teammates.
Returning home on Friday night, CB A will meet Liverpool at 7 p.m. at Alibrandi Stadium. The Warriors, like the Brothers, are 2-1, but are 0-1 in Class AA-1 after an overtime loss to West Genesee and need the win to avoid real playoff trouble.
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