That was the call from LSCHS Alum Chris Jastrzembski '14 with the game winning touchdown catch. It was the Chris Ferguson pass to a leaping Nick Rinella who made a juggling snag with a herd of Prep defenders guarding him that sealed the deal for La Salle to win the 2015 Catholic League AAAA Championship, the team's 1st since 2012.
The game started off looking scary for the Explorers from the first play of the game. Prep led early with the first two scores putting them ahead 14-0 midway through the 1st quarter. That is when La Salle turned the jets on. La Salle's Chris Ferguson hit Charles Headen for a 25 yard touchdown to get the Explorers on the board.
The energy remained high for La Salle. Next drive down, Jared Walls intercepts Shaw and returns it 49 yards to tie the game up. That was the turning point in the game. Once again the defense stayed hot. The next Prep possession early in the 2nd quarter Anthony Piscopo recovered a fumble to give the Explorers the ball with a chance to take the lead.
Prep and La Salle would exchange the ball a few times the rest of the quarter as it stayed quiet until the last play of the half. La Salle had driven all the way down to the SJP 5 yard line looking to go into halftime with the lead. The ball is intercepted and Prep returns a 95 yarder to make it 21-14 at the break.
The 3rd quarter came around quietly. After a couple good phases from Isaiah Jones and Sy Madden, La Salle's Matt Savage booted a 21 yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-17. Then, none other than Ben Walls would once again extend the Prep lead to 28-17.
As the final quarter came around, the Explorers weren't just going to let their high school football career's end. 12:00 minutes left, down by 11 points. The defense shut the Prep down and the offense turned on. Ferguson hit Eubanks, Headan, everybody. They marched all the way down to the 3 and on 3rd down, Syaire Madden runs it in to cut it to 28-23. (PAT NO GOOD)
SJP started with the ball at around the 45 and couldn't do a single thing. La Salle shut them down on all fronts. Thus, the Explorers come up with a clutch 3rd down stop forcing them to punt.
It's a ball game now.
La Salle starts with it at their 29 with 4:29 left in the game down by a score. A few Madden runs later it is 4th and 1. Ferguson with the sneak and it is a 1st down. Here comes Jones. 3rd and 2, Isaiah Jones on the QB draw for 10 yards and the much needed 1st down up to the SJP 14. 1:24 left.
"Ferguson looking, has time, Rinellla!! " Touchdown Explorers. Chris Ferguson hits Nick Rinella for the 24 yard touchdown pass. Rinella with three Prep defenders on him tips it to him self and juggles it reeling it in as he falls to the ground. It was unbelievable. La Salle takes the lead for the first time all afternoon putting them ahead 29-28 with :49 seconds left.
Prep gets the kickoff and tosses it to none other than D'Andre Swift. Oh my god. Swift runs the kickoff unit back across the field a few times until he is knocked out of bounds. On the final play, it's a screen to Swift and he is swarmed by defenders, he tosses it to Walls and the ball is knocked away by La Salle's Charles Headan.
Game Over. La Salle Wins!
It was by far the best game I have ever seen. A full team effort by the Explorers and they escape with the hubcap. Every single play went into winning the chip and everyone contributed. The defense held SJP to an amazing 139 yards and one of the best tailback's in the nation (Swift) to 18 yards on 12 carries. They pressured Shaw into making him afraid to throw the ball after Jared Wall's pick 6. The finish would not have been without the support of the Explorer team. Sr. Matt Savage constantly walking back and forth on the final drive screaming words of motivation, "they don't want it! Do you want this to be your last minute that you ever play football? Lets go! Let's do this! It's ours! "
I do owe an apology to the La Salle offensive line. They played amazingly this game allowing Ferguson plenty of time to pick apart the SJP defense and Madden and Jones many gaps to take on the ground. I don't even think they allowed a sack the whole game. Furthermore, they played like crazy and deserved to win more than any other team. (I am sorry T.J., McCracken, Chenzo, Jimmy, and McDermott that I said you needed to give more to Ferg and Sy)
La Salle - 2015 PCL Champs
The Explorers will take on Simon Gratz this Saturday at 12:00 noon at Northeast HS in the District 12 AAAA Championship game. Be sure to check back to the site for a game preview later in the weak.
- Christopher Sanders
Follow Chris on Twitter @sandman285
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