By Brandon Mauk
There are still a few weeks left until the start of the CHSFL playoffs, but Christ the King’s battle for first place against Xavier felt like a championship game and it ended that way.
The Royals scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from David Navas to Alex Miranda with 10 seconds left to complete a come-from-behind 21-15 victory over Xavier in a game between unbeaten Class AA teams last Saturday at Franklin K. Lane. It was the same play CK used to beat Fordham Prep late in its season opener. This was the first win for Christ the King over Xavier since 1996.
“We don’t underestimate any opponent, and they played a hard game,” Navas said. “We thought about this game as a championship game, down-to-the-wire fourth quarter, victory.”
Christ the King, which trailed 15-8 in the third quarter, got the ball back at its own 8-yard line, following a huge sack by its defense with just over four minutes to play.
Navas began the drive by finding Tosin OyeKanmi for 32 yards down to the CK 40. On third and 21 from Xavier’s 46, OyeKanmi picked up 18 yards and then five to convert on fourth and three. It set up a last minute chance for the Royals to win the game. Miranda fought off the defensive back in the end zone to haul in the winning touchdown.
“I guess my quarterback has a lot of confidence in me,” Miranda said. “I’m happy he does, because he was able to put the ball in front of me and allowed me to run,”
The Royals’ success in the air came after a simple switch in the offensive scheme. Xavier (5-1, 5-1) suffocated the Royals’ running game early on, so CK head coach Jason Brown decided to allowed Navas to fire away. Navas threw three touchdown passes, the last two to Miranda, and did not turn the ball over.
“That’s what we do. That’s the type of team that we are,” Miranda said. “We adapt to whatever we have to adapt to.”
After a quiet first quarter, Xavier got on the board in the second quarter when running back Michael Chiarovano scored on a 1-yard run.
Christ the King (6-0, 5-0) immediately responded when it opened up the passing game..
“We were getting pounded on the run, our guys weren’t holding their blocks,” Brown said. “We had to open the field and pass it a lot more.”
The switch paid off, and CK’s offense took off in the second quarter. It got a 40-yard touchdown strike from Navas to OyeKanmi and a two-point conversion run by OyeKanmi that put Christ the King up 8-7 going into halftime.
After the break, Chiarovano capped another Xavier scoring drive with a 7-yard run and 2-point conversion to put his team back on top 15-8.
Xavier attempted to turn back Christ the King’s running game, and a 9-yard loss set up third and 19 from CK’s 15. It didn’t matter because Navas connected with Miranda for a 25-yard reception. After another big stop for a loss by Xavier, Navas threw down field to Miranda, who broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown to tie the score at 15-15.
“My receivers tell me ‘I got your back’,” Navas said. “I can make the throw. I have a great arm.”
It was a precursor to what was to come in the final seconds of an intense, emotional victory for the Royals that puts them alone in first place.
“It’s a big victory, but we’ve just got to keep on moving,” Brown said. “We’re looking for a bigger chip.”