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Holy Cross bounced by upstart Kellenberg

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Seck, who is being courted by Division I colleges Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, dipped and darted his way through the Knights' defense to lead the fourth-seeded Firebirds to a 13-3 win over No. 5 Holy Cross in the CHSFL 'AAA' quarterfinals.

"He's a great passer, but he bought himself time," Pugh said of Seck. "The pass rush was in, but he just got away from people. Now I see why they've had so much success. That's the difference."

Seck's elusiveness was the key to his success. Despite receiving high snaps just about every series, the senior play-caller who was in shotgun formation for almost the entire game recovered quickly and, after avoiding three or four defenders, either broke free for a big run or hit one of several targets down field for a long completion. Seck finished the day 6-for-16 for 149 yards and rushed the ball six times for a total of 70 yards.

"That's what makes him so deadly," said Kellenberg head coach Kevin Hanifan. "The receivers know not to quit on their routes. He puts a high school secondary into the position of, 'Who do you cover now?' He's a natural athlete. You can't coach that."

Hanifan said the reason his center Thomas Stay struggled with snapping the ball was because of the presence of Holy Cross senior linebacker Dale Robinson. He said Stay rushed his snaps to try and block Robinson.

Seck worked his magic at the end of the second quarter, orchestrating an 11-play, 92-yard drive highlighted by a Hail Mary pass on third-and-8 from the Cross 37-yard line. Cross junior defensive back Edgar Petrelli appeared to have the ball intercepted, but somehow it landed behind him into the hands of senior Michael Sharpe at the 1. Three plays later Seck rolled right and dove into the end zone for the game's first score. Giuseppe Zappia's extra point gave Kellenberg a 7-0 lead with 11 seconds left in the first half.

The Knights had a great chance to tie the game on their first possession of the third quarter as, on third-and-8 from the Kellenberg 13, Michael Braunstein's screen pass found a wide-open Dwayne Franklin. With two linemen down field and loads of open space, it looked like Franklin would find the end zone, but the junior running back tripped at the 13 for no gain. Braunstein's pass to Franklin on fourth down was incomplete.

"That was a very critical time," Pugh said. "Apparently it looked like he tripped. We needed to score there to establish ourselves in the second half."

The Knights had another golden opportunity to score on their next possession as, following a Chris Moran interception and a Kellenberg personal foul, Holy Cross started on the Firebirds' 16. Back-to-back runs by junior Willie Aime gave the Knights a first-and-goal from the 5. But both Michael Davenport and Dale Robinson were stuffed at the line of scrimmage and Braunstein threw an incomplete pass. After two great chances to get into the end zone, the Knights had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Braunstein with 1:22 left in the third quarter.

To make matters worse, Aime went down with a left ankle injury in the drive and didn't return.

"He's our guy," Pugh said of Aime, who rushed for 67 yards on 17 carries. "We were playing with defensive backs after that."

Seck sealed the game late in the fourth quarter when he hit senior David Fitzpatrick, who broke double coverage for a 33-yard touchdown pass to give the Firebirds a 13-3 lead with 2:30 left in the game.

"[Assistant coach] James Begley called a play action on top to David Fitzpatrick," Seck said. "I was surprised by the call because they bit our play action early, but it turned out to be a great call."

Kellenberg (8-1) advances to the CHSFL semifinals to take on top-seeded St. Anthony's, 24-6 winners over No. 8 Chaminade. Holy Cross finishes its season at 5-4.

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