By Joseph Staszewski
Holy Cross has asked a lot from its talented defense as a young offense has struggled all season. The Knights have used four different quarterbacks and were shut out the last two weeks of a three-game losing streak.
“We are not going anywhere if the defense doesn’t shut people out,” Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh said.
It’s exactly what he got from his unit, which is as good as any in the city in an important 22-0 win over Holy Trinity in CHSFL play Saturday afternoon at the Bayside Athletic Complex. Holy Cross recorded four interceptions from three different players and had five sacks.
Calvert Springer had two picks and Chris Manfre returned one for a touchdown. The game also saw the varsity debut of sophomore quarterback Joshua Evans after junior Akini Primus played the position for the first series.
“Every week we try to help the offense as much as we can,” senior safety Brandon Jackson said. “We just go out here and try to make plays.”
He did so by picking off Holy Trinity quarterback Cameron Hayes (14 of 31, 127 yards) on the Knights’ 7 yard line early in the second quarter. It was the closest Trinity (3-5, 2-5) came to scoring all afternoon. On the next play from scrimmage fullback Andrew Spyridon-Tow (four carries, 130 yards) ran for 69 yards to help set up and eventual 27-yard field goal by Thomas Farnan. Shortly after Manfre took an interception back 17 yards for a touchdown. It helped give Holy Cross a 9-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first half.
“I was just dropping back and I guess he made a bad decision,” Manfre said of his interception. “You have to capitalize on everything.”
The Knights (5-3, 4-3) broke things open in the fourth quarter. Springer had a leaping interception near the right sideline. On the next play, Spyridon-Tow burst free again for a 55-yard gain to set up a 5-yard scoring run from Jordan Franklin.
Springer returned his second pick 27 yards and Brandon Pelzer rushed for an 8-yard score to give Cross a 22-0 lead with 4:07 left in the game.
“We have to keep on going and pushing,” Spyridon-Tow said of the team’s offense.
The squad did so after three straight defeats to earn an important victory in the standings after losing to league power Chaminade just 3-0 the week prior. Holy Cross remains in the top eight spots and in the Class AAA playoffs before it closes out the regular season against Kellenberg this week.
“If we lost, we were probably out of the AAA,” Manfre said. “They pushed us extra hard in practice this week. We pushed ourselves and we were able to come out with a victory.”