By Mike McAvoy
Lekeith Celestain was in quarterback Michael Loprete’s ear throughout the game.
“Whenever you’re ready,” the Holy Cross senior wide receiver kept telling him.
Loprete decided it was time to take Celestain up on his offer, with the score tied late in the game.
Loprete floated a pass over the middle of the defense in Celestain’s direction with nine seconds remaining. He snatched it out of the air and then proceeded to march 31 yards into the end zone to give Holy Cross a thrilling 20-14 win over Mount St. Michael in a CHSFL Class AAA game at Bayside Athletic Field Sunday afternoon.
“‘Just lay it out there and I’ll go and get if for you,’” Celestain said he told Loprete.
Cross began the drive at their 23-yard line with under a minute left to play. The Knights (2-0, 1-0) could have chosen to run out the clock and play for overtime, but Coach Tom Pugh had a different idea. Celestain, who also returned an interception 92 yards for a score with 19 seconds left in the first half, was going to be given a chance to make a play.
“We weren’t going to kneel and kill the clock,” Pugh said. “Not when you have a D-I talent like Celestain, he sees the field and he scores.”
They attempted two deep passes to Celestain, who was under-utilized for most of the afternoon, down the left sideline, but both were slightly overthrown. After a 43-yard run by junior Jordan Francklin brought the ball to the Mount 31-yard line, Loprete went back Celestain’s way. The touchdown pass vindicated Loprete, who earlier threw an interception that set up Mount’s touchdown drive late in the fourth.
“Right now, I can’t even tell you how I feel,” Loprete said. “I felt like I lost us the game, but then to throw that score. All I can say is, Celestain is a freak.”
On the previous drive, Mount found themselves on the Holy Cross 37-yard line, down eight points with seconds ticking off the clock. In four plays, all runs, it found the end zone on an 11-yard line pitch play up the right side to senior running back Jovan Parks. Still needing a two-point conversion to tie, Mount ran the pitch to Parks, who again found the end zone to tie the score at 14-14.
“They couldn’t stop it,” Parks said.
An extra session wasn’t something Celestain and Holy Cross had any desire to see and he made sure of it.
“It shouldn’t have gotten to the point that it did,” Celestain said. “So I wanted to get it over with.”