Nov. 22, 2008
BALTIMORE, MD - Senior Stevie Hendley (Annandale, VA/Bishop O'Connell) capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive in the final three minutes with a one-yard touchdown and senior quarterback Keith Ricca (Poolesville, MD/St. John's Prospect Hall) connected with classmate Andrew Buis (Gaithersburg, MD/Gaithersburg) on the ensuing two-point conversion as Catholic pulled out an 18-17 victory over host Johns Hopkins in the 2008 ECAC Southeast Bowl at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals, who claim their first-ever ECAC Championship with the victory, end the season with a 9-2 record, while Johns Hopkins had its five-game winning streak snapped and finish at 8-3. It is the first loss in an ECAC Bowl Game for Johns Hopkins in four games.
On a day when Johns Hopkins junior Andrew Kase (Wyomissing, PA/Wyomissing) became the all-time leading rusher in school history, it was a wild final five minutes that stole the show.
The Cardinals were on the verge of taking a 17-10 lead with just over five minutes remaining as they drove from the Blue Jay 37-yard line to the one. However, Ricca was stood up at the one and fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it was picked out of the air by sophomore Mike Todisco (Towaco, NJ/Montville), who raced 100 yards for a stunning touchdown that gave the Blue Jays a 17-10 lead. It was the second time in the game the Blue Jays had come up with a fumble recovery inside their own five-yard line. The 100-yard return is the longest play in Johns Hopkins history.
After the teams traded punts over the next three minutes, Catholic took over at the Hopkins 48-yard line with 2:31 remaining. Ricca hit Mike Smith (Silver Spring MD/The Bullis School) for 14 yards and connected with Ryan McManus (Malvern, PA/Malvern Prep) on completions of 13 and 20 yards to set the Cardinals up at the JHU one-yard line. Hendley then went over left guard for the touchdown and Buis caught Ricca's two-point attempt after bobbling it briefly for what proved to be the deciding points.
The Blue Jays actually had a chance to win late in the game, but not on the drive right after Hendley's score. Hopkins fumbled away the kickoff after Hendley's touchdown, but the Blue Jay defense forced a fumble by Hendley two plays later to give the Blue Jays one last chance.
Freshman Tyler Porco (Venetia, PA/Peters Township) then hit 4-of-7 pass attempts, including a 21-yard completion to classmate Sam Wernick (Dallas, TX/Dallas Jesuit), to give the Blue Jays a first down at the Catholic 35 with 20 seconds remaining. Catholic sophomore Dylan O'Shea (Westport, CT/Staples) ended any hopes of a last-second Hopkins victory one play later as he intercepted a Porco pass to Tucker Michels (Allendale, NJ/Northern Highlands) at the Catholic three-yard line with six seconds remaining to seal the victory.
A late-game comeback didn't seem like it would be necessary at the half as Catholic led 10-0 and the Cardinal defense had held the Blue Jays to a just 109 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes. A 70-yard touchdown pass from Ricca to Miles Sabrick (Douglassville, PA/Reading Central Catholic) on Catholic's first offensive play of the game and a 19-yard field goal by Joseph Owens (Blackwood, NJ/Paul VI) accounted for Catholic's 10 first-half points.
The Blue Jays began their comeback early in the third quarter as Ryan Rasner (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Bishop Eustace) sacked Ricca and forced a fumble that James Medaglio (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks East) recovered at the Catholic 32. Alex Lachman's (Livingston, NJ/Livingston) 43-yard field goal four plays later got the Blue Jays on the board and sliced the deficit to 10-3, but Hopkins failed to capitalize on its next two drives, which both stalled inside the Catholic 35.
Hopkins finally drew even early in the fourth quarter as Kase capped a 14-play, 60-yard drive with a three-yard scoring run that made it 10-10. The Blue Jays converted a pair of third downs and one fourth down opportunity on the drive with a five-yard run by Porco converting a fourth-and-five from the Cardinal 25 at one point.
The 10-10 tie lasted until Ricca's fumble and Todisco's subsequent 100-yard fumble return gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game with 5:10 remaining. That set the stage for Hendley's touchdown and Buis' reception on the two-point conversion that gave Catholic the 18-17 lead that held up in the frantic final moments.
Ricca was 25-of-47 for 283 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also lost a pair of fumbles inside the Blue Jay five-yard line. Sabrick totaled 114 yards and the one touchdown on five receptions and Rich Barry (Wilmington, MA/Wilmington) rushed 11 times for a team-high 50 yards.
Senior defensive lineman Dean Petrone (Hamilton, NJ/The Hun School) earned ECAC Southeast Bowl Most Outstanding Player honors as he totaled 13 tackles, including five for losses and 2.5 sacks. Achille Kolla (Rockville, MD/Bethesda Chevy-Chase) added 12 tackles and a forced fumble.
Kase rushed for a game-high 188 yards and the one score and surpassed Adam Cook (2001-04) as Johns Hopkis' career rushing leader with one full season remaining. Kase now has 2,954 yards in his career, which is nearly 200 more than Cook's previous record of 2,769. Kase's 1,635 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns this season are also school records.
Porco was 12-of-26 for 116 yards and freshman Kale Sweeney (Schnecksville, PA/Parkland) led the Blue Jay defense with 10 tackles, two tackles for losses and one sack. Todisco added seven tackles and an interception to go along with his 100-yard fumble return.
- 30 -