For the second time this season for Brother Rice, regulation was not enough time to decide the outcome of a vital match. Four weeks ago, it happened at Marist; this week, at Providence Catholic, the game ended with a similar result, but in somewhat different fashion. The Crusaders stopped the Celtics in the first possession of overtime, but failed to score on their own offensive trip. Receiving the ball right back 10 yards out of the endzone for a second try, Martez Walker completed a 1-yard touchdown rush, with Dan Tieman’s PAT putting Rice up 38-31.
To secure the win in what Coach Nye called, “A must-win ballgame,” the Crusaders needed to play some defense. On the Celtics second down, 6 yards away from tying the game and forcing the game to a third OT session, senior Cody Stull dove and intercepted a pass just outside of the endzone, ending the game and sending the Rice sidelines into a frenzy.
“The play seemed routine,” said Stull. “It feels like its been drilled in my head throughout the whole year in practice.”
On this dark, cloudy night, the Crusaders started junior Matt Page at quarterback, as regular starter Pat Parrilli continued to be sidelined with a back injury. Neither team started the game well. On Rice’s first three possessions, they punted, lost a fumble, and punted again. These struggles however should not overlook Dan Lyons’s solid punting game. His second punt of the night was as good as it gets, landing directly on the Celtics’ 1-yard line.
On the following defensive sequence, Jason Flagg picked off a pass at Rice’s 37-yard line. With less than two minutes to play in the first quarter, the offense finally got what it was waiting for, when Martez Walker ran 63-yards for the first Crusader score of the night. Tieman kicked it through the uprights to put Rice up 7-0 with a lot of football left to be played.
Providence responded with a field goal on their following possession which lasted nearly six minutes, and brought the score back to 7-3. In response, Matt Page made one of his few mistakes of the night, throwing an interception that was returned 50 yards by Troy Sheppard for the Celtics’ first touchdown of the evening, putting them up 10-7 with about 5 minutes to play in the half.
The Crusaders bounced right back, however, as the see-saw battle continued. Martez Walker exploded yet again, as Rich Mayer made a key block that opened a hole for Martez to bolt 69 yards for his second touchdown. Tieman completed the extra point that put Rice back on top, 14-10. Rice’s defense continued to have their problems, however, as they failed to stop a 42-yard touchdown pass to the Celtics’ Sean Fitzgerald. With the PAT, the Celtics took the lead, 17-14, with under two minutes to play in the half. In the final possession of the half, the Crusaders managed to move the ball to the Celtics’ 17-yard line thanks to rushes by Martez, Andrew, and a 13-yard scramble by Page. On second down and 10, Rice’s fake field goal play nearly worked, but the pass was dropped in the endzone by Kevin Salmon to end the half.
As usual, the Crusaders came out with great intensity to start the second half. A Providence fumble on the kickoff was recovered by Dan Lyons on the Celtics’ 24-yard line. From there, six straight Crusader rushes set up a 3-yard touchdown rush by Rich Mayer at the 9:00 mark of the third quarter. Tieman kicked the extra point to put Rice up yet again, 21-17.
Rich Mayer showed he could do more than just run the football when on the kickoff the Providence receiver fell victim to Mayer’s monstrous tackle that electrified Crusader fans. The defense fed off Mayer’s intensity, forcing a Providence punt after 3 unsuccessful plays. The Celtic punt landed 20 yards out of bounds, giving the ball to the Crusaders just 35 yards out of the endzone. Ryan McGaha kept the sequence alive on fourth down and 5, catching a key pass that moved the ball just outside of the redzone. Rice, however, failed to reach the endzone despite rushing the ball within 6 yards. Rather, they settled for a Dan Tieman field goal that extended their lead to 24-17 with 1:47 to go in the third quarter.
The Celtics moved the ball into Rice territory following the kickoff, but Cody Stull denied them any further ground with his first interception of the game, which he returned past midfield into Celtic territory. The Crusaders now looked to take control. Two offensive false starts forced a third down and 13, but a great throw by Page combined with an incredible grab by Lyons near the sideline resulted in a key first down for Rice. On the next play, Andrew Walker rushed 9-yards for his only touchdown of the game, which along with Tieman’s PAT put Rice up 31-17 with just 9 minutes remaining in the game.
The Celtics, however, responded yet again on their home field. After a deep, 40-yard pass completion, they managed to run it in for a touchdown off a sling pass with 7:04 remaining. With the extra point, Rice’s lead shrunk to 31-24. The Crusader offense failed to provide a larger cushion following Providence’s score, and was forced to punt. Rice’s defense tried to pick up the intensity as Kevin Salmon sacked the Celtic quarterback for a loss of 8 yards. But Providence managed to convert on third down and 13 off another sling pass. A 34-yard completion set up a 3-yard touchdown rush by the Celtics’ Andrew Hoffmeister. The PAT knotted the game 31-31 with under 4 minutes remaining and shocked Crusader fans, at least for the time being.
Near midfield on the following possession, the Crusaders faced fourth down and 5. A rush by Andrew Walker off a fake punt was not enough to give Rice the critical first down with less than 30 seconds to go in the match. Providence received the ball and promptly completed a 22-yard pass that brought them to the Rice 24-yard line with 18.5 seconds remaining. After a 1-yard run by Hoffmeister, the Celtics called their final timeout with 9.1 seconds remaining. On 2nd down and 9, their field goal attempt came up short, and thrust the game into overtime.
Providence received the first chance to score in OT. On 4th down and 1, the Crusader defense denied the Celtics run attempt and kept them out of the endzone. The offense nearly won the game on the ensuing possession, but Tieman’s 13-yard field goal try on 4th down went wide left and missed. The offense received the ball right back to start double overtime. This time, Martez Walker converted his 1-yard rush for his third touchdown, and after Tieman’s PAT, Rice went up 38-31 and needed only one defensive stop to seal the win.
They got stop when Stull snatched the ball on second down and 6. Cornerback Ryan McGaha, when asked about the defense’s struggles, said, “We let up a couple big plays. But we thought about it. [In OT] We executed and knew what had to be done. We came out on top.” The (4-2) Crusaders travel to De La Salle next Friday where they will definitely need to play some intense defense if they hope to defeat the Meteors (4-2).