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A small but boisterous gathering at DaSilva Memorial Field on the campus of St. Johns University rose to its feet to watch the final moments of a thrilling football game between St. Francis Prep and Cardinal Hayes Sunday afternoon.
The St. Francis homecoming crowd had watched four lead changes and now it was wishing for one more with its team trailed 18-14 with 1:52 left on the clock.
The crowd went home happy. Carrying the ball and the game in his hands, senior fullback Chris Zambrano bulldozed his way into the end zone, capping the Terriers come-from-behind 21-18 victory that appeared out of reach only minutes earlier.
We showed a lot of heart by coming back, said Zambrano. We knew we were scoring once we got to the three thats our territory.
The key play of the winning drive was a stunning catch and run by David Morano with 2:00 left. After grabbing a short pass over the middle, a combination of nifty running and poor tackling allowed Morano to break the play. He broke free from five tackles on his way down field before being wrestled down at the three. The play brought the crowd to its feet, where it remained until the last seconds.
We were in a fight for our lives, St. Francis head coach Vince OConnor said. The kids played tough and came up with big plays. They believe in themselves and that develops with success.
Cardinal Hayes nearly had victory in hand when running back Adrian Feliciano stunned St. Francis with a 70-yard touchdown burst with 3:35 remaining. The long run gave the Cardinals a short-lived 18-14 lead.
We missed key tackled and [St. Francis] made big plays at the end, Cardinal Hayes head coach Sterling Alves said. Its been a rough season for us.
St. Francis (2-3, 2-2 CHSFL) scored on its first possession. Zambrano capped a 40-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The running of Zambrano and two short passes to Brian Forman put St. Francis in position for the score. The extra point gave the Terriers an early 7-0 lead.
An opportunistic Hayes scored the games next two touchdowns in the second.
After a fumble by Zambrano at his own 42, Feliciano barely scored from one-yard out on fourth and goal. Armyan Thomas put his team in position for the touchdown with a 33-yard run two plays after the fumble.
On the Terriers next play from scrimmage, the Cardinals defense forced another turnover, this time by gang-tackling Forman at the St. Francis 36.
It was the only mistake Forman made all game, but Nigel Brown made St. Francis pay for it. He took a pitch from quarterback Xavier Cosme and swept around the left tackle for a five-yard touchdown to make the score 12-7.
Foreman later made up for his gaffe on a pretty nine-yard touchdown catch two minutes before halftime. Quarterback Peter Mazzurco (11 for 21, 145 yards) froze the defense with a fake a handoff to Zambrano and rolled left, hitting Forman in the left corner. The second extra point of the game by Adam Tanalski made it 14-12.
Thats a play we like to go to when the other team expects a run, Forman said. This time, I actually broke the pattern up field a little more and the throw was right there.
An all-round performance by Forman earned praise from his coach. He ran for 43 yards on 13 carries and caught six balls for 48 yards. He also snuffed out a late fourth quarter drive by the Cardinals with a pretty over-the-shoulder interception.
His all-around performance both on offense and defense kept us in the game, OConnor said about Forman.
After forcing the two huge turnovers in the second, the Cardinals defense raised its level of play in the second half. It stopped the running game and pressured Mazzurco enough to force incomplete passes. The Cardinals held St. Francis scoreless and were in control of the game until Morenos big play.
The play of Feliciano was a bright spot for the Cardinals. He spearheaded the offense, totaling 158 yards on 18 carries. Behind his running, the Cardinals stayed in the game and nearly pulled out the victory in the final minutes.
Hes a phenomenal player, Alves said. Our offensive line has been doing a good job for him too. Im pleased with those performances.
Defensive back Eric Maiorino (six tackles, three assists) and linebacker Richard Magliore (five tackles, three assists) led the St. Francis defense.
Zambrano had 12 carries for 41 yards and two touchdowns, including the hard-earned game winner. He also announced his presence on defense with two sacks and helped keep the pressure on Cosme most of the game.
Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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