Cardinal Gibbons and Athens Drive had trouble separating from each other all night. With neither team ever leading by more than one possession, the Crusaders needed extra time and used a Jimmy Russo PAT in overtime to defeat the Jaguars 28-27.
Athens Drive had the ball first to start the extra sessions and used a pair of runs by nose tackle-turned-fullback Nate Gatling to setup a 5-yard score by David McMillian to go up 27-21. However, the ensuing kick by Garrett Stoehr was blocked to keep the lead from extending.
Cardinal Gibbons was able to draw the Jaguars offside to move the ball to the five-yard line and Hunter Caro was able to tie up the game and put the win in the hands of Russo — who had missed his first two attempts of the night.
“Jimmy Russo is a kid that I would trust with my own children,” Crusaders coach Steven Wright said. “He pulled his first one and hit his second off the upright … but I had no hesitation whatsoever about putting him out there because I knew he was going to make it.”
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With the third quarter winding down and Athens Drive clinging on to a two-point lead, punter Ben Williams miscommunicated with his long snapper, resulting in the football going over the 6-foot 1-inch senior’s head.
Williams was forced to boot the ball out the back of the end zone to prevent a Cardinal Gibbons recovery, which tied the game at 14.
A 29-yard return by Dalen Spruill gave the Crusaders excellent field position and quarterback Anton Stoneking was able to connect with Russo to set up a four-yard touchdown by Caro and give Cardinal Gibbons its first lead since the first quarter.
Three who mattered
Dalen Spruill, Cardinal Gibbons: The sophomore running back picked up 155 yards on 19 carries for the Crusaders Friday night, while scoring the team’s first points of the season. Of his 19 attempts, all but three picked up positive yards.
Jalen McNish, Athens Drive: McNish was able to take his first pick of the night 60 yards to give the Jaguars an early 7-6 lead. But his second pick, with the Crusaders knocking from seven yards out allowed Athens Drive to take a two-point lead into the half.
Anton Stoneking, Cardinal Gibbons: It took two drives before Stoneking made his first appearance Friday night, but after doing so he went 12-for-21 and gaining 169 yards through the air. He also threw a touchdown.
“I told (Stoneking) if got things going he’d buy himself more time, and he did,” Wright said. “Anton took advantage of his opportunity, made some big throws and got us on the board.”
They said it
“It’s just a matter of trying to find out what we are,” Athens Drive coach Chris Martin said. “We’ve got to have a little more urgency and understand it’s football and you have to hustle. They haven’t quite grasped that concept.”
By the numbers
32: The number of penalty yards the Jaguars had on their third possession of the night, before scoring on a 52-yard double-pass (Tre Echols to David Parker to Peyton Smith) on 3-and-23.
10: Athens Drive had just 10 yards on the ground Friday night, counting a loss of 30 that resulted in a safety.
5: The number of time Cardinal Gibbons went for it on fourth down compared. The only punted once and the Crusaders only converted on one of their five fourth down attempts.
15 for 109: The number of penalties and yards for the Jaguars.
“It’s a lack of focus,” Martin said. “We’ve got to get more disciplined, they know that. Stupid stuff happens.”