Father Judge scores 28 of game’s final 31 points to down State College
Written by: Josh Funk on Saturday, September 17th, 2011
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Father Judge Crusader team gathered in a cluster on the visiting sideline and heartily sang their school fight song, “Here’s to our Crusaders.”
Early on, the Philadelphia Catholic League reps didn’t have much to sing a jaunty tune about. A slew of flags and inopportune turnovers dug a quick hole.
The Crusaders’ finish, however, was definitely worth singing about.
Father Judge (2-1) scored 28 of the game’s final 31 points to erase a 21-6 first half deficit, silencing a hostile crowd with a 34-24 victory over State College Area (0-2) from a boistrous Memorial Stadium in downtown State College Friday evening.
“We wanted to play this game,” said Judge head coach Tom Coyle. “We wanted to put our kids in tough spots amd see what happens. This was a great learning and bonding experience (for our team).”
State College put the press on right from the beginning of the game. Just three plays after Little Lion quarterback Josh Weakland was intercepted by the Crusaders’ Connor Donohoe, SC was cashing in on a gift from the blue and white. Linebacker Ben Roeshot stepped in front of Daniels’ first pass attempt and returned it 18 yards for the opening score and a 7-0 Lion lead.
Prior to staking itself to that 7-0 lead, State High was able to throw the Crusaders’ defensive unit for a loop on its initial series. Judge was flagged for four offsides and a pass interference penalty, helping the Little Lions tally four first downs despite only running for minus-2 yards on the drive and netting 10 total yards of offense.
Judge seemed to get back on track with a Daniels-to-Albi Arapaj 35-yard connection, but three plays later, Daniels was intercepted again. This time, Jack Haffner came up with the highway robbery, and #36 personally pushed the Lions’ lead to 14-0 with a 1-yard run with 10:39 left in the first half, sending the already raucous SC student section into a frenzy and aiding in adding to the volume of the strains of the State High fight song.
“We were trying to find something that worked, and Josh (Weakland) was making good reads and Jack (Haffner) was hitting the holes,” said State College head coach Al Wolski.
Haffner helped make it 21-6 Lions with a 13-yard run on which he dragged several Judge defenders for the final three yards to paydirt. In the first half alone, Haffner ran for 97 yards on 13 carries. For the game, he had 145 yards on 20 carries and the two touchdowns.
“He keeps his legs going,” Wolski said of Haffner. “He’s a tough player.”
But after the rough start – the two interceptions and seven penalties for 52 yards, including four offsides penalties – Judge found its feet. Matt Smalley helped Judge break its goose egg on the scoreboard with a two-yard scoring run with 8:27 left in the half and cut SC’s 21-6 lead to 21-12 with a four-yard run with 12 seconds left in the half. A Daniels-to-Donohoe connection for the two-point conversion made it 21-14 at half.
Judge kept its momentum going strong in the second half. Daniels’ passes of 24 yards to Smalley and 25 yards to Arapaj helped set up Smalley’s third scoring run – a six-yard jaunt with 9:01 left in the third quarter. Then, after forcing a State High punt, Judge took the lead for good. Daniels hit a streaking John Landis for a 46-yard connection and a 28-21 Crusader lead with 1:46 left in the third.
“Rob delivered the ball and our guys caught it,” Coyle said. “I told you pregame Rob’s very comfortable in the pocket.”
State College appeared to stop the bleeding when kicker Josh Cloithaux nailed a 38-yard field goal to bring the Little Lions to within four with 10:41 left in the game, but SC would get no closer. After trading three-and-outs, Judge went to work, taking a 12-play, 77-yard, 5:20 drive to ice the game with a Daniels 1-yard run with 1:33 left. The drive featured seven running plays between Smalley and Raul Quinones and a pair of State High offsides penalties, one of which resulted in a Crusader first down.
“I was very proud of our last drive,” Coyle said. “We ran it right down their throats – that’s what championship drives are made of. To go on the road and win by 10 points against a very good team in a hostile environment – I’m very proud of our guys.”
Judge was paced by Daniels’ 216 passing yards and the tandem of Quinones (123 yards on 18 carries) and Smalley (59 yards on 17 carries). Arapaj caught four passes for 106 yards and Landis three for 74 yards. Judge had 394 yards of total offense and 16 first downs, but a glaring 12 penalties for 102 yards.
In addition to Haffner’s effort on the ground, State High got 43 yards on six carries from senior Saige Jenco, who has a full scholarship to Virginia Tech to play baseball. Weakland connected on 4-of-9 passes for 46 yards and threw two interceptions. SC finished with 226 yards and 15 first downs, but committed nine penalties for 60 yards and had three turnovers.
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