LaSalle Downs Judge Revenges Only League Lost.
PHILADELPHIA: The last time the LaSalle Explorers met the Father Judge Crusaders was on October 3 and in that game LaSalle jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead only to see their defense give up 28 unanswered points in a 28-14 lost. Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at Northeast’s Charles Martin Memorial Stadium the Explorers repaid the Crusaders by coming back from two one point deficits in the fourth quarter to down the top seeded Crusaders 28-20 to come away with the Philadelphia Catholic League AAAA Championship.
The Crusader defense would break a scoreless tie in the first quarter when Connor Thompson intercepted a Drew Loughery pass and returned 9 yards untouched for the touchdown. Pat Schultz would add the extra point giving the Crusaders the early 7-0 lead.
The Explorers would respond on the first play of the second quarter when Loughery would hit Sam Feleccia from 20 yards out. Mike Bennett would add the extra point tying the game at 7. The touchdown caped a seven play 55 yard drive.
The Explorers would take lead in what turn out to be a defensive battle in the first half with five seconds left when Bennett would nail 39 yard field goal giving the Explorers the 10-7 lead at half.
The Explorers would take advantage of a bad snap on a Crusader punt that was recovered by LaSalle’s Ryan Saraceni at Crusaders 9 yard line. The Crusaders defense would respond and hold the Explorers to 18 yard field goal by Bennett giving the Explorers the 13-6 lead heading into the fourth.
The Crusaders defense would take the lead away from the Explorers as Adam Nowak would pick up a fumble by Jamal Abdur-Rahman and return 15 yards for the Crusader touchdown. Schultz would add the extra point giving the Crusaders the 14-13 lead.
Loughery and the Explorers would respond when Loughery would hit Sr. Mike Donohoe for a 12 yard touchdown. On the ensuing two point conversion attempt Donohoe would hit a wide open Loughery in the end zone on a Jet sweep pass giving the Explores the 21-14 lead. When asked about the two point conversion Explorers Head Coach Drew Gordon said “That was huge, we ran it last year, and it was a play we put in this week.” Loughery said of the two point conversion “around here we not much into tricky in our playbook but we always had it the playbook and it was the perfect time to run it I was pumped up when they called it” he would add “I’ve been waiting for that play to be call and I knew I couldn’t screw it up.”
On the ensuing drive the Crusaders would respond as they drove 65 yards on four plays behind a 39 completion from Anthony Smith to Nowak that put the ball the Explorers 31 yard line after a 3 yard run by Curt Wortham Smith would hook up with Tom Ryan for a 28 yard touchdown. Schultz’s extra point would be wide right cutting the Explorers lead to 21-20.
The Explorers would respond with an 11 play 70 yard drive that ended with a Loughery pass to Donohoe from 12 yards. Bennett would add the extra point giving the Explorers the 28-20 lead with 1:42. Loughery would finish with 113 yards on 12 completions and two touchdowns. Donohoe would finish with 8 carries for 34 to go along with his four receptions for 35 yards.
On the ensuing drive the Crusaders would lose Smith on an incomplete pass forcing Nowak to come in. On Nowak’s second pass attempt of the game he hit Ryan for a 15 yard gain to put Crusaders at midfield with 50 seconds left to play. Following a seven yard scramble by Nowak and a one yard gain by Wortham put the Crusaders up to the Explorer 41. An intention grounding call would force the Crusaders to face a fourth and eleven at midfield Nowak would show his arm strength has he tried to hook up with Tim Donohoe but Mike Donohoe Tim’s cousin was able to get a hand on it and knock it down preserving the Explorer victory. “Going against him was kind of funny but knocking it down was awesome” is what Mike Donohoe would say about the deflection that preserved the victory. When asked about it was tough to get up for this game after their big victory over their rivals St. Joseph Prep Mike Donohoe responded “ I’m an Northeast boy so these (Judge players) are all my friends it wasn’t that hard at all for me its like a home coming” Gordon added “What a great thing for a senior playing against his neighborhood school he did a great job running ball”
Up next for Donohoe and the Explorers is another tough team from Northeast Philadelphia in the George Washington Eagles who they face next Saturday afternoon at noon for the District XII AAAA Championship at Northeast High School
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