The game started out fast. St. Joe's captain Vince Moffett took the opening kick into La Salle territory but the Explorers held strong forcing a field goal. Momentum quickly went the Hawks way when the Explorers fumbled the following kickoff and St. Joe's kicker Pat Walsh recovered at the 30. The next play from scrimmage the Hawks scored on a 30-yard pass over the middle to University of Pittsburgh commit Jawan McAllister to make it 10-0 just 3:43 into the game.
La Salle would respond as they methodically marched the ball down the field to the three yard line when St. Joe's tried some gamesmanship by jumping off sides repeatedly to try and get a jump on La Salle's snap count. Following the third straight penalty and Explorers' coach Drew Gordon calling for a flag, the Hawks were warned for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the next play, La Salle quarterback Kyle Shurmur ran it in for a touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7.
In the second quarter, La Salle's punt was blocked and recovered by St. Joe's at the Explorers nine yard line. On the very next play, Chris Martin found John Reid in the back of the end zone for a nine yard touchdown to put them up 16-7 after a missed PAT and that's how they would go to half.
La Salle got the ball to start the second half but the drive stalled in St. Joe's territory and the Explorers were forced to punt. Punter Matt Raczak pinned the Hawks at their own one yard line and two plays later, Martin was picked off by La Salle's Steve Hudak as La Salle took over on their own 23. They would work it to a first and goal situation but then started moving backwards. On fourth and goal from the 15, La Salle opted to go for it instead of taking the field goal and it cost them as the St. Joe's defense came up huge, as they had all night.
On the following possession, Martin found McAllister again on a 57-yard touchdown pass for McAllister's second touchdown of the night to open the St. Joe's lead to 23-7 in the third quarter. The missed opportunity on first and goal for La Salle turning into seven points the other way for the Hawks proved to be the major turning point in the game as the Explorers faced an uphill battle afterwards.
The Explorers got the ball back and moved it down field when Shurmur pitched to tailback Jordan Meachum who then tossed it back to a wide open Shurmur. Shurmur fired down-field looking for All-American sprinter Levi Hardy but was picked off on a beautiful one-handed interception by Reid to give the Hawks the ball at the five and take away any remaining wind from the Explorers' sails.
The next St. Joe's drive spanned the end of the third quarter and kicked off the fourth. Freshman runningback D'Andre Swift scored on a 12-yard rush to make it 30-7 Hawks with 9:49 left and the celebrating begun.
La Salle drove back down the field and made it 30-14 on a Nick Rinella run but only 5:54 remained in the game and, wouldn't you know it, Swift recovered the onsides kick. La Salle would add another touchdown on a two-yard pass from Shurmur to fellow junior Jimmy Herron with 9.7 seconds left but it was too little, too late.
The Hawks went on to win 30-20 taking home their first Catholic League title since 2005 - that would mean the senior class was in fourth grade the last time they won (I think). It was a long awaited celebration as the students stormed the field led by the "Prep" flag. The loss snaps a streak of five consecutive Catholic League titles for the Explorers and six out of seven - a very impressive run by their own right.
But this night belonged to St. Joe's from the beginning to the end as they take home the title and look to advance to the PIAA State Playoffs for the first time in program history.
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