RALEIGH — A few big plays and turnovers propelled Cardinal Gibbons, ranked sixth in the News & Observers preseason area rankings, past No. 12 Green Hope 14-12 Friday night.
Green Hope pitched a second-half shutout in the loss and missed a 20-yard field goal that would have provided a lead with less than two minutes remaining.
But Gibbons had the nights two longest plays from scrimmage a 41-yard pass from Dante DiMaggio to James Sriraman and a 74-yard pass from Shawn Stankavage to DiMaggio that both resulted in touchdowns.
It was certainly not what we anticipated, but we leaned on our defense and they bailed us out, said Gibbons coach Steven Wright.
The Crusaders also forced three turnovers, including two interceptions by senior strong safety Jackson OKorn.
OKorn, making his first varsity start, delivered big hits and had two picks all in the first half. In the second half, the Falcons didnt throw his way as much.
He even blocked an extra point in the second quarter.
We ran it in practice. I got through there, put my hands up and got it, OKorn said.
Gibbons went on top with 5:12 in the first quarter on DiMaggios pass. It was the only snap DiMaggio took as a quarterback on the night, coming in for one play as Stankavage had to sit out one snap after his helmet came off on the play before.
I definitely felt comfortable, DiMaggio said. I knew the play, knew the coverage and knew he was going to be wide open. I stepped back, hit my target and was going crazy.
Gibbons doubled its lead to 14-0 on the long pitch-and-catch from Stankavage to DiMaggio with 9:13 left in the second quarter. DiMaggio ended the night with six catches for 166 yards and a score.
Green Hope got on the board with 47.3 second left in the half on a 13-yard pass from junior Luke Massei making his first varsity start after senior Chris Tutwiler broke his leg last week to Daniel Gretsch.
Massei also found Elijah Murrane from 19 yards away with one minute left in the third quarter to cut the lead. The Falcons went for two and were denied.
The defense played their butts off. We had too many turnovers on offense and it was the big plays that got us, Green Hope coach Kwame Dixon said. We had out shot at the end of the game, it was just wide left.
Masseis first start had its share of highlights as he consistently extended plays with his legs. His final state line was 23-of-43 passing for 230 yards, two scores and two picks. His favorite target was Bryce Dixon (seven catches, 81 yards).
Demetrice Massenburg had 18 carries and 70 yards rushing for Green Hope.
Gibbons Stankavage ran 12 times for 48 yards and completed 11 passes out of 27 attempts for 163 yards, one touchdown and two picks (by Ridge Ford and Troy Maslowski).
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps