By Dylan Butler
Redemption for Kevin Durkan was less than a yard away.
With seven seconds remaining and no time-outs left, that’s how close Holy Cross was from a huge road victory. But the senior quarterback was stopped at the goal line, setting off a wild celebration for Holy Trinity, which claimed an emotional 14-13 Homecoming win in Hicksville, L.I.
“I thought I was in when I got the push,” Durkan said. “I was down and I saw the white line. It was close. I thought I was in, but I got pushed back around. I looked down and I wasn’t in.”
Durkan, who scored on a 17-yard scamper with three seconds left in the second quarter, missed a critical extra point following his 12-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Paljevic with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
The Knights led 13-7, but Louie Cotrone scored his second touchdown of the game, a 5-yard run, with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter. Pat Dreiss’ extra point gave Holy Trinity (6-1, 5-1 CHSFL Class AAA), ranked No. 5 in the CHSFL by the New York Post, a 14-13 lead.
“There was nobody stopping me on that play, especially in a game like that,” Cotrone said. “I wasn’t letting anybody bring me down.”
“I think the key was our drive to put it in and the extra point obviously because it took a lot of time off the clock,” Holy Trinity Coach Tony Mascia added.
Cotrone figured the stout Titans defense would stop Holy Cross to seal the win, but it was a lot closer than he expected. With 2:39 left in the fourth quarter, the Knights took over at their own 42.
Durkan rushed for 15 yards, hit Devon Cajuste for 16 and connected with Kedar Hunter for another 17 yards to the Trinity 12. A pair of Shaquille Frederick rushes brought No. 8 Holy Cross (2-5, 1-5) to the 2-yard line. A 1-yard gain by Hunter set up the game’s seminal moment.
Knights Coach Tom Pugh debated what to do. Durkan had already missed an extra point and with a gusty wind whipping around the field, so a field goal wasn’t an option. Perhaps Cajuste, a Stanford-bound receiver who forced a key turnover in the second quarter in his first start at safety, could make a play.
“It’s my fault,” Pugh said. “I should have lined him up, faked it or something, but the kid wanted the ball. It was a couple of inches.”
As soon as Durkan lined up over center, Holy Trinity’s Wray Fucci knew the Knights were going for the QB keeper to win it.
“The front four, we just shut him down,” the James Madison-bound lineman said. “We slanted hard inside and saw they were in a QB sneak and we just blew him up.”
Added Cotrone: “Our team just displayed pure heart. That’s what it came down to. There’s no skill involved in a 1-yard play. It’s basically who wants it more.”
The officials didn’t make a call immediately, adding to the drama. When they finally said Durkan didn’t cross, Holy Trinity players rushed the field to celebrate and Durkan was crushed.
“I wanted to make up for my mistake on the extra point,” Durkan said. “I wanted it and I failed my team twice. It just hurts right now.”
It was a huge win for Holy Trinity, which takes on undefeated St. Anthony’s next Saturday in a rematch of last year’s CHSFL Class AAA title game. Holy Cross, meanwhile, is reeling after three consecutive losses.
“This hurts because of where we are,” Pugh said. “As of right now we’re in the ‘AA’ unless we win out. We’re in bad shape. Not good.”