RALEIGH — Cardinal Gibbons quarterback Shawn Stankavage led his team to three fourth-quarter touchdowns Friday night and the Crusaders’ defense made the stops as Gibbons rallied for a 47-36 win over upset-minded Chapel Hill.
For the second straight week, the Tigers (3-6, 2-3 Big Eight 3A) nearly toppled a team with its sights set on the league title. Last week undefeated Orange scored at the end of the game to edge the Tigers 6-0.
The win for coach Steven Wright’s Crusaders (7-2, 4-1) sets up a match at Orange next week.
“Chapel Hill came in here and gave us all we could handle,” said Wright, whose team lost to league foe Southern Durham. “And now we know we’ve got to win next week to have a chance at the conference title. I haven’t heard the score, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to play an undefeated Orange team.”
Orange defeated Oxford Webb 56-7.
Gibbons trailed most of the game, and Chapel Hill scored early in the fourth quarter to go ahead 36-26.
On the next possession, Stankavage had a 19-yard run and then found Dante DiMaggio open over the middle. DiMaggio gathered in the pass and ran away from the defense for a 61-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 36-33.
Then Gibbons linebacker Chris Karazin intercepted a pass. That set up a fourth-down 51-yard run by Stankavage to the Chapel Hill 10.
“It was actually a fake punt, a pass play, and I rolled right but no one was open,” Stankavage said. “I knew I couldn’t just throw the ball away because it was fourth down. I knew I had to run.”
He reversed his field and broke away to keep the drive alive, and a play later he threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chris Gorman to put his team in the lead.
The defense then stopped the Tigers again, with Lukas Bowler getting a fourth-down sack, setting up a 37-yard drive that ended with Stankavage scoring on a 9-yard run with 2:42 left. David Smith ended any hope the Tigers had of coming back with an interception.
“At halftime I told our defense I had to have some stops out of them, and we got them,” Wright said. “Really, everyone on the defense played well in the second half. Our offense goes as Shawn goes. He struggled in the first half, and so did we. But he made some big plays in the second half at critical times and got us going.”