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Christ the King comes up short against Xaverian, 28-21

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The Christ the King football team gave head coach Mike Cassidy plenty of reasons to leave St. John’s University with a headache Saturday night. The Royals turned the ball over in each of its last three drives, had several costly penalties and struggled on special teams.

But with 26 juniors returning, Cassidy will just add the 28-21 Homecoming Night loss to Xaverian to the already stacked file of learning experiences.

“It’s easy to be frustrated, but with this group you can’t,” Cassidy said. “We compete week-in and week-out with the cream of the crop but we always seem to make mistakes at inopportune times. But it’s kind of what you expect with a young team. These are mistakes that you won’t see next year.”

Christ the King (1-5, 1-4 CHSFL) entered the fourth quarter trailing 22-21 but junior running back Anthony Lazarus, who had a spectacular game to that point, coughed up the ball and Xaverian’s Christopher Walker recovered at the Royals 41.

The Clippers ran the ball nine straight times and junior quarterback Jeffrey Hudson, in for the injured Craig Cantelmo, scored on a one-yard keeper on fourth down to put Xaverian (4-2) ahead, 28-21 with 5:01 left in the game.

Four plays into their next series, junior Steven Morrison fumbled the ball and Matthew Luzuriaga recovered at the Christ the King 47.

“My team had mistakes I felt should have and could have been corrected,” said Lazarus, who had a total of 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “We hurt ourselves but we’re going to learn off our mistakes. I feel every week we’re getting better and better.”

After watching tapes of Xaverian, Cassidy believed his team could throw the ball on the Clippers, and junior quarterback Jamar McClaney did just that, chalking up 172 yards in the air on 9-of-18 passes, including a 56-yard touchdown pass to fellow junior Andre Redd to give the Royals a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.

But as was the case after Christ the King’s first score — a 33-yard touchdown run by Lazarus — Xaverian quickly responded.

And their answer was junior running back Tory Ransom, who filled in for injured starter Mohamed Bangoura. First he ran back the ensuing kickoff return 95 yards to tie the game at 7.

Then after CK went back up, Ransom (217 total yards, including 139 on special teams) scored on a three-yard run — set up by a 40-yard gallop — to tie the game at 14.

“I felt good. When Bangoura went down [in the first quarter] I had to step up and play ball like my team needed me,” Ransom said. “The defense kept us in the game. They played hard and with heart all game.”

Christ the King went back up, 21-14, with 5:40 left in the second quarter when Lazarus, who broke a host of tacklers and carried three Xaverian defenders on his back on a 34-yard pass from McClaney, scored his second touchdown of the night from the 1.

Lazarus and McClaney are juniors, and wide receiver Andre Redd and running back Steven Morrison are coming back, Cassidy said. “The building blocks are all there.”

Xaverian scored just before the half when Hudson hit Henry Edwards, who beat double coverage for a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Clippers were set to boot the extra point, but the Royals were offside on the play.

With the ball moved to about the 1, Xaverian coach Don Laurendi opted for the two-point conversion and Ervin Roberson converted to give the Clippers a 22-21 lead with 16 seconds left in the first half.

“We had some kids banged up and I am so proud of our kids,” Laurendi said. “[Christ the King] is a good football team; don’t be fooled by their record.”

It doesn’t get much easier for Christ the King, which hosts Monsignor Farrell Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at St. John’s University before finishing the regular season at Holy Trinity Nov. 3.

Holy Trinity 17, St. Francis Prep 14. Quarterback Peter Mazzurco had already thrown a pair of touchdown passes and the Terriers senior captain was set to throw a third, but Holy Trinity’s Brian Jacovina broke up the Hail Mary at the goal line on the final play of the game for the host Titans Saturday afternoon.

After Mazzurco hit Nat Modica for a 25-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Holy Trinity (3-2) responded with a three-yard run by Anthony Cotrone, who was 8-of-16 for 140 yards. He also ran for 68 yards on nine carries and kicked a 25-yard field goal and a pair of extra points.

Cotrone hit Danny Wallace on fourth-and-three for a 7-yard touchdown pass to put Holy Trinity in front, 17-7, but St. Francis Prep (3-3, 2-3) cut the deficit to three, 17-14, on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Mazzurco to Mark Burik.

The Terriers face Chaminade Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Hofstra University.

Monsignor Farrell 41, Holy Cross 7. It was the Kern Collymore show at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point Saturday, as the Monsignor Farrell running back rushed for 232 yards and four touchdowns in the Lions romp.

Farrell, which added a 62-yard touchdown pass from Scott Bacci to Larry Fawley and a 40-yard touchdown run by Josh Amaro, improved to 4-2, 3-2 in the league.

Dan Meara (9-of-20, 90 yards, one touchdown, one interception) connected with Rich Belot on a 13-yard touchdown pass for Holy Cross’ lone score. The Knights, who drop to 1-5, 1-4 in the league, play Fordham Prep Sunday at 1 p.m. at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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