By Joseph Staszewski
The game’s biggest play felt like practice to Shaquille Frederick. The Holy Cross junior linebacker picked off a Joseph Lane pass and returned it to the St. Joseph by the Sea 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
“It felt like we were in the drills,” Frederick said. “When I caught it, it took me back to the beginning of the game. I wanted to step up and make a big play.”
The interception set up a Dean Marlowe 8-yard touchdown run that helped Holy Cross erase an 11-point third quarter deficit and take the lead for good. The Knights defense quelled the Sea running attack and held on to stun previously unbeaten St. Joseph by the Sea 50-38 in both teams’ CHSFL AAA regular-season finale Saturdayin Huguenot.
“I couldn’t believe it. He actually looked like he could run,” Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh said. “He made some good moves.”
Holy Cross showed similar resiliency in a Week 2 comeback overtime win against Iona Prep. This win was an even more emotional one for the Knights coming off a loss to powerhouse St. Anthony’s at home on a last-second field goal last week.
“When we lost to St. Anthony’s [last week], I was like, we have to come at St. Joe’s next week,” said Marlowe, who was 5-of-10 for 178 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. “The whole team played with a sense of urgency.”
Holy Cross (6-2, 5-2 CHSFL AAA) trailed 32-21 early in the third quarter after a 17-yard touchdown run from Sea running back Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. Devante Bryant, who rushed for 97 yards and two scores on six carries, scored on a 33-yard run before Marlowe’s TD.
Barrington Wallace added a touchdown run, his first of two, which put Cross up 43-32 in the fourth. A Wallace fumble set up a 36-yard touchdown pass from Lane to McCombs to pull the Vikings (6-1, 6-1) within 43-38 with 6:05 remaining in the game. Andrew Armato ran for 103 yards on 23 carries. The Knights’ defense didn’t let Sea gain anymore momentum.
“At the time we needed the stops; we seemed to get them today,” Pugh said.
The Knights shut down the Vikings’ running game in the fourth, stopping them twice on fourth down. Sea led 24-14 at the half, but it could have more after a Marlowe fumble. Instead the Knights defense held the Vikings on 4th-and-2 from the Cross 8-yard line, a preview of what was to come.
“Once we had the lead we weren’t giving it back up,” Frederick said. “We just kept it.”
Sea couldn’t find an answer to the dynamic Holy Cross offense. Marlowe hooked up with wide out Devon Cajuste for an 80-yard touchdown pass to start the second half. Cajuste also drew two key pass interference calls, leaving the Vikings to chose between Wallace and Bryant beating them on the ground or Marlowe and Cajuste in the air. Adrian Paljevic added a touchdown grab.
“I couldn’t believe the coverage,” Pugh said. “They went one guy on [Cajuste] with a little help over the top. Get him one and on and he is tough.”
Just like the rest of his squad.
Reach Joseph Staszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.