Boulevard belongs to St. Francis Prep

The Battle of the Boulevard is always a night to remember. When Holy Cross and St. Francis Prep meet at St. John’s University’s DaSilva Field, it’s special, on the field and in the stands. It transcends generations.
It is Queens’ very own Friday Night Lights.
“The kids build up the game so much,” senior cornerback James Kikel said. “It’s been crazy. That’s all they talk about at school.”
The game has seen its share of streaks. The Terriers won 10 in a row during the 90’s. Holy Cross finished on top each of the last four seasons, including last year’s 20-0 drubbing, making for many taunts this group of St. Francis players had to endure. They were determined to change the rivalry’s recent ways, to beat Holy Cross for the first time.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game since day one,” junior running back Tristan Akong said.
The waiting ended Friday night. In front of a raucous standing-only crowd of 3,200, St. Francis turned the rivalry back in their favor, returning it to the southern side of Francis Lewis Boulevard with a dramatic 14-7 victory.
Chris Gallagher kicked field goals of 41 and 37 yards. Akong scored the game-winning touchdown, and senior cornerback Michael Gallagher sealed the victory, picking off Holy Cross quarterback Brian Pugh with 32.8 seconds remaining.
“Hopefully from here,” Akong said, “we can start our own streak.”
“Best game I ever played in my life,” said Kikel, who led the Terriers with 10 tackles and a blocked punt recovery.
For a while, it looked like Holy Cross would win another chapter in this storied series. After senior Daryl Whiting’s four-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, they led 7-6, an advantage that would hold up almost the entire way. That is, until a nine-play, 45-yard, game winning drive culminating in Akong’s three-yard dash to pay dirt with 2:34 remaining.
The Knights had their last chance, starting at their own 20-yard line. After struggling the entire night in his Battle of the Boulevard debut, missing receivers deep and short, Pugh, the coach’s son, hit a few big plays, including one 35-yard screen pass to Whiting. He moved the team down to the St. Francis 22 with 39.6 seconds remaining.
On first down, he looked for Tariq Tongue on a slant. As was often the case during the game, the speedy senior wideout created separation. Unfortunately, for Pugh, the ball did too; it was high, deflected off Tongue’s fingertips and into Michael Gallagher’s waiting arms, ending Holy Cross’s recent dominance over their bitter rivals, and starting a wild celebration on the home sideline and in the St. Francis section of the bleachers, where they wildly shook their white and red thunder sticks.
“It’s the best feeling in my life,” Michael Gallagher said. “I waited four years for this day.”
“We really wanted to break that tradition and put SFP back where we belong,” Kikel added.
Mission accomplished.

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