In order for any opponent to topple Christian Brothers Academy’s football team, an opponent cannot afford that many mistakes – something West Genesee can attest to after Friday night’s game at Alibrandi Stadium.
From ill-timed penalties to six turnovers to dropped passes, the Wildcats gave the state Class AA no. 2-ranked Brothers too many gifts, and CBA gladly accepted them, eventually pulling away for a 41-7 victory.
WG’s hopes of a shocker partially hinged on building upon the passing game that sophomore quarterback Dashon Turner unleashed when he threw four touchdowns in the first half of a 62-14 victory over Central Square a week earlier.
But it was Homecoming night at CBA. Adding to the festive atmosphere, alumni football players joined the current Brothers team on the field for the customary pre-game prayer, connecting past with present.
Right from the outset, WG hurt itself with errors. Will Northrop dropped a potential first-down pass on the opening drive. Then a personal foul on the Brothers’ first possession directly led to the first touchdown, J.R. Zazzara throwing a short pass to Dowdell from the 30, and watching Dowdell shake off two tackles and sprint to the goal line.
Aided by Pat Hanley stripping a possible interception from Gideon Dixon near midfield, the Wildcats made it first sustained march, mixing in runs and passes and reached the 20 before Dixon atoned in a big way, intercepting Turner’s pass in the end zone.
Yet another big penalty, a face mask, keyed CBA’s second scoring drive. Deshawn Salter went the final 41 yards for a touchdown, going to the sidelines on a toss, and then turning back to the middle, breaking several tackles as the Brothers’ margin grew to 14-0.
Settling down for a while, WG picked up defensive pressure, and it paid off. Early in the second period, Zazzara, facing another blitz, threw too long, and Colin Bevard picked it off, returning it to midfield.
Again, WG gave it back, Turner fumbling on a scramble at the Brothers’ 15 and Julius Richardson recovering. But another defensive stop allowed the Wildcats a chance to get on the board. From the Brothers’ 38, on third down Turner found a streaking Michael Schmidt with a perfect strike, and the extra point cut the Wildcats within a score, 14-7, with 4:24 left in the half.
The half ended in an odd manner, WG fumbling a punt to put CBA deep in the Wildcats’ end, only to have Nolan Bower’s 32-yard field-goal attempt get botched by a fumbled snap.
Only up 14-7 at the break, the Brothers faced a bit of stress, having not taken full advantage of every Wildcat mistake, but that was soon to change.
Yet another personal foul penalty (a late hit this time) during CBA’s opening possession of the second half put the ball on WG’s 25. on the very next play, Zazzara, finally getting time to throw, found Noah Carter-Williams in the end zone, and the lead doubled to 21-7.
From there, it didn’t take long for the lead to grow to 27-7. Less than a minute after Carter-Williams’ TD, Andrew Romagnoli intercepted Turner’s pass at the 40 and, picking up blocks from his fellow defenders, returned it for six more points.
Zazzara scored on a 14-yard run late in the third quarter, and the Brothers’ defense set up another score with Dowdell’s interception that he fumbled – but Romagnoli scooped up the fumble and returned it to the Wildcats’ four, with Salter scoring one play later.
CBA visits Central Square (0-4) next Friday night at 7:15, while West Genesee returns home to face Corcoran for a 6 p.m. kickoff.