The rain miraculously held out as after kickoff, it didn't rain at all despite the forecast. The overflow crowd, despite pockets of empty seats on the Hawks side, was extremely grateful.
St. Joe's Prep got off to a fast start as quarterback Chris Martin hit running back Olamide Zaccheaus on a 20-yard pass down to the Explorers goal line before he was stopped by La Salle linebacker Zaire Franklin. The Hawks would pound it in on the next play as Martin kept it on a quarterback-keeper to put St. Joe's up 7-0.
After swapping unsuccessful possessions, La Salle got their first first-down with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. They would end up driving to the red zone before Zaccheaus picked off La Salle quarterback Kyle Shurmur in the endzone on a bobbled pass. Zaccheaus would make the Explorers pay as just four plays later he broke free on a 66-yard run to put the Hawks up 21-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
La Salle would respond before halftime as Shurmur hit running back Jordan Meachum on a 61-yard pass on the first play following the score. Tailback Nick Rinella would find pay dirt on the next play as La Salle got on the board but trailed 21-7. After a three-and-out by St. Joe's, La Salle had an opportunity to score before halftime but Shurmur was intercepted by linebacker Ryan McNulty who put St. Joe's in scoring range. Martin would hit D'Andre Swift on a screen pass that went for six to put the Hawks up 28-7 at halftime.
Game's over, right? Wrong.
Shurmur led the Explorers down the field to begin the fourth quarter and hit Rinella for a 20-yard touchdown pass to make it a 35-21 game. The Explorers defense found their stride and were swarming keeping Martin off-balance and forcing St. Joe's to call their last timeout with 6:29 remaining in the game. The play-clock appeared to become Martin's enemy as the La Salle student section got louder and louder, Martin began to struggle getting the plays in time.
The Explorers forced a St. Joe's punt to Jimmy Herron who returned it down to the Hawks' 30-yard line. La Salle would continue putting on pressure as the drive was capped off by a one-yard Ryan Brady touchdown run to make it a 35-28 game with 3:58 remaining. The St. Joe's sideline became uneasy and the St. Joe's Prep student section fell silent as the La Salle sideline got energized and the La Salle student section began their "Burn the Ships!" chant, in reference to the famous Hernan Cortes burning of the ships during the Spanish conquest (yes, high school kids came up with that).
St. Joe's got two first downs on a nine-yard run and a 12-yard catch (luckily for the Hawks there are no challenge flags) on the next drive and were faced with a third-and-four which would've iced the game for the Hawks but Franklin and Brady came up huge to force fourth down. La Salle's Tamar Turner broke up the fourth down pass near the goal line to give the Explorers life.
La Salle took over on their own 37-yard line with 50.6 seconds left and no timeouts. Shurmur scrambled on the first play 13-yards to mid-field and an Explorer first down. On the next play, Shurmur found National Champion track runner Hardy breaking across the middle towards daylight but the pass went through his hands and into the chest of Hawks' defensive back Vince Moffett to win the game.
Martin took one knee in victory formation and St. Joe's Prep escaped with a wild 35-28 victory over arch-rival La Salle. Martin went 18-for-25 (72.0%) for 226 yards and three touchdown passes. He also rushed 15 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. Shurmur completed 14 of his 25 pass attempts (56.0%) for 167 yards and two touchdowns. St. Joe's Prep plays against Father Judge next week while La Salle heads down to play Roman.
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