The song “Thriller” by Michael Jackson would also have been an apt title for the tilt between Canisius and Cathedral Prep of Erie, Pennsylvania on the eve of the holiday most associated with the song – Halloween.
Canisius fell by a slim 38-36 margin, but Bryan Gorman believed that the final score would help his team in the long run.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome,” Gorman said. “I thought we came to play at all three levels of the game and we had a great week of practice. But if you make one mistake against a quality program like Cathedral Prep and it could come back to bite you.
“But I always say that iron sharpens iron. Everything that we have in front of us – a regional championship, state championship – is right there for the taking.”
The first half was marked by loads of points scored. The Crusaders struck first on a two-yard touchdown run by Cureem Hathcock, but the Ramblers’ Carter Barnes tossed a 15-yard score to Wakeem Page after a muffed punt by Canisius gave Cathedral Prep excellent field position.
Barely a minute later, Canisius answered back quickly after a four-play drive was capped off by another two-yard score by Hathcock. Shortly afterwards a fumble by Barnes deep in his own end allowed Alec Reynolds to drill a 35-yard field goal and increase the Crusader lead to 17-7.
On the Ramblers’ next possession Page found the end zone for his second touchdown of the day on a 72-yard reception after a blitz by the Crusader defense didn’t work out in their favor. Once again, Canisius answered when a three-yard bootleg run by Tyler Baker reached paydirt but the Ramblers – like Michael Myers in the Halloween movies – kept coming back.
Barnes hooked up with Cam Bridges for a 27-yard score and Michael Doctor – who did his best Dr. Frankenstein impression that afternoon – hauled in a 13-yard touchdown catch with 27.7 seconds left in the second quarter. All told, the Crusaders led at the half 31-22.
The defenses started to hold up in the third quarter after each squad exchanged a couple of punts, but like a 1,000-year-old mummy whose bandages were disintegrating, they quickly fell apart. A short touchdown run by Suhtaun Lewis pulled the Ramblers within two points late in the third, and after a scary sequence in which each team fumbled and Cathedral Prep missing a 29-yard kick, Baker found Antonio Morgan to increase the Crusader lead to 38-29.
With just over six minutes to play and a nine-point advantage, it seemed as if Canisius had a victory in the bag. Yet the Ramblers refused to die. A little more than two minutes later Michael Parks III scampered into the end zone from a short distance away to pull his team to within two points. Then came the nail in the Crusaders’ coffin.
On the ensuing offensive drive by Canisius – one in which they were trying to run the game clock down – they fumbled twice, losing the last one to Cathedral Prep with 1:44 to go. Barnes promptly drove his team down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 17-yard run to the left pylon with 19.2 seconds left.
While Gorman wasn’t happy with a second straight close loss (having fallen 22-15 in overtime to St. Francis last week) he was consoled by the fact that his team would take on longtime rival St. Joe’s next Saturday in the Monsignor Martin A Division Finals. Kickoff is set for noon at the Stransky Sports Complex.
“My big thing on Mondays is ‘no hangover Mondays’, which means you don’t dwell or linger on things that happened the previous weekend,” Gorman said. “We just had two unfortunate weeks where we played two quality teams who came out on top. You’ve got to go back to the drawing board, work together and pull together in the same direction. We have a strong program where we feel that our kids and our coaches can bypass this and move on to St. Joe’s.”
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