Cardinal Gibbons came from behind to edge Cary 15-12 in a defensive battle between two N&O Top 10 teams.
Cary, who led 12-0 in the first half, won the turnover battle but couldn’t produce enough points off the Gibbons miscues.
Benjamin Grazen scored on a three-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Gibbons ahead for the first time. Shawn Stankavage converted the two point pass play to Trevor Zaruba to make the score 15-12.
The Imps (1-1) were unable to get the big play in the fourth that they had early in the contest. Gibbons forced Cary into a fourth down incompletion with 3:08 remaining and then ran out the clock for their second win of the season.
Never miss a local story.
“We had to absolutely empty ourselves in a game that had a playoff feel tonight,” said Cardinal Gibbons second year head coach Steve Wright. “I’m so proud of these players. Our defense kept us in it and then Shawn (Stankavage) brought our offense under control in the second half.”
Stankavage finished the game 17-of-24 with 134 yards passing, but it was his clutch third down pickups on the ground which kept the Crusaders two scoring drives alive. The QB carried the ball 18 times for 89 yards.
Imp senior quarterback Jordan Dawson opened the scoring when he faked a handoff to running back Marquise Sherrod-Ponds and raced 62 yards down the left sideline. Cary missed the extra point but had a 6-0 lead two minutes into the game.
Cary safety Landon Walton had two interceptions early, but Cary netted just six points off the two picks and one Crusader fumble.
Sherrod-Ponds capped a 15-play drive with a 26 yard touchdown run on an option play to put Cary ahead 12-0 with 7:06 remaining in the first half.
Gibbons answered when Stankavage fired a 19-yard strike to Zaruba to put the Crusaders on the board with 4:53 left in the second quarter. A 20-yard pass to Dante Dimaggio and 30 penalty yards set up the key Gibbons score before intermission.
The Crusaders limited the Imps to just 44 yards passing and, with the exception of Dawson’s big TD, kept Cary’s running game in check.