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Holy Cross football drops heartbreaker to Fordham Prep

Holy Cross football drops heartbreaker to Fordham Prep
Michael Henglein throws pass during the CHSAA Class AA contest between Holy Cross and Fordham Prep at Jack Coffey Field.
Photo by Robert Cole
By Robert Cole

The Holy Cross Knights traveled to the Bronx with intention on grabbing the top spot in the CHSAA “AA” football league as they battled the Fordham Prep Rams at Jack Coffey Field on the campus of Fordham University.

The Knights came out ready for the challenge, scoring on their first possession for a 7-0 lead. However, the Knights couldn’t ride their early momentum to victory as Fordham Prep would score with 2:47 left in the contest to gain a 34-30 lead that would prove to be the final score.

Both teams relied on their stars to keep their offenses rolling. The Knights fed the ball to star running back Justin Felder, who unofficially carried the ball 25 times for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Fordham Prep rode the arm of senior quarterback Matt Valecce, who went 27 for 35 for 339 yards with five touchdowns.

Holy Cross jumped out to a 14-point lead after a 67-yard touchdown run by Felder at the 11:49 mark of the second quarter. Fordham scored their first points of the game in the second quarter, when Valecce threw the first of his five touchdown passes to Will Loffredo, cutting the Holy Cross lead to 14-7.

Felder put his offense in good field position with a 44-yard kick return and followed that with a 27-yard touchdown run to build the lead back up to 14 points at 21-7.

Holy Cross looked as if they would take their 14-point lead into the half, but with 3:23 remaining in the second quarter, the Rams’ Ryan Gilchrist intercepted Holy Cross quarterback Michael Henglein’s pass, giving the Rams one more opportunity to chop into the lead. The Rams did just that, as Valecce connected on a 23-yard pass to Tommy Walsh, helping Fordham Prep take momentum into the locker room despite trailing 21-14.

Fordham tied the score 21-21 at the 10:44 mark of the third quarter on Valecce’s third touchdown pass to Tommy Walsh. But Holy Cross was not ready to allow the game to get away from them, as Corey Allen returned the Fordham Prep kickoff 62 yards, placing the Knights in prime scoring position. Joseph Higgins took advantage of the short field with a field goal, making the score 24-21.

Holy Cross extended its lead to 30-21 after Darius Atiles recovered a fumble by Fordham Prep’s Valecce. Following the turnover, Corey Allen scored on an eight-yard reverse with 1:09 left in the third quarter.

After the Rams scored early in the fourth to get within 30-28, Boston College-bound Valecce tossed his fifth touchdown pass of the game, hitting Liam McHale on a 3rd-and-15 play with 2:47 left in regulation. Fordham missed the two-point conversion, making the score 34-30 in favor of the Rams.

The Knights could not mount a comeback and ultimately fell to the Rams 34-30.

“We just got to make stops, guys weren’t making stops,” head coach Tim Smith said. “[But] we are still the team to beat. We will see each other again in the playoffs.”

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