WHITE PLAINS — From the moment it tied St. Anthony’s late in the second quarter until the beginning of the fourth, Stepinac earned itself four possessions in or near the red zone. To finish a league-awakening upset, the Crusaders needed those opportunities, and needed to cash them into points.
Instead, Stepinac failed to score four times inside the St. Anthony’s 25. The Friars made them pay behind 298 yards and three touchdowns from junior star Jordan Gowins, who led the CHSFL power to a 31-14 victory Saturday.
With each stalled drive, momentum crept away from the tiring Crusaders, who surrendered 10 late points and were ultimately outgained 468 yards to 239.
“We have to reward the defense, and we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities,” said junior quarterback Brandon Coleman, who completed 9 of 23 for 79 yards and a touchdown and was limited to 26 yards and a score on 22 carries. “They really did a good job on defense locking down, but I’m proud of the team, the way we fought.”
Stepinac (2-1) sent an early scare into St. Anthony’s (2-1), tying the game first on Coleman’s 42-yard connection to Gavin Heslop and later on his 10-yard keeper. Heslop, a junior, then intercepted Greg Galligan’s pass and returned it 36 yards to the Friars 22, but the Crusaders were stopped at the 16.
Stepinac went on to force two more turnovers, receive a shanked punt and had a punt of its own go out of bounds at the half-yard line. But the offense had drives stall at the 10, 21 and 23 of St. Anthony’s, and the defense surrendered a 94-yard touchdown run to Gowins on a third down.
“We’re not dwelling on it,” said senior captain Brian Harris, a two-way lineman. “We’re just going to move forward, week by week, and we’ll probably see them again at some point in the playoffs.”
“We won the turnover ratio and did a lot of decent things out there, but we have to capitalize,” Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell said. “We strive to be as good as St. Anthony’s and those teams, and we’re not there yet. But we’re proud of the way our kids played.”