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Holy Cross coach records 200th career victory

Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh picked up win No. 200. Photo by Denis Gostev
TimesLedger Newspapers

This week, next week. Next month. Tom Pugh wasn’t 100 percent sure when his 200th win was going to come. He was far more interested in how Holy Cross football was going to respond after looking lethargic late this week.

“I was more concerned with how we did after having a pretty bad practice on Friday,” Pugh said.

The 38th-year coach could punt those worries away by halftime Sunday. Holy Cross routed Holy Trinity 48-21 in CHSFL ‘AAA’ action at Bayside Athletic Field. The football victory marked an incredible milestone for the accomplished head man.

“Listen, in this league it’s tough to get 200,” said Pugh, who miscalculated and thought he’d reach 200 next week with a win. “Even if you have a good year in this league you usually end up at .500.”

The bad practice didn’t correlate onto the field Sunday as Holy Cross (3-0, 2-0 ‘AAA’) dominated play for most of the game. The star was easily senior running back Shyheim Wingate, who scored an impressive five touchdowns, three on passes from quarterback Yianni Gavalas, and two on running plays.

“I didn’t expect to have that many touchdowns today,” Wingate said. “It was an all-around team effort. Yianni and I communicated well today and it was my job to get open.”

Wingate got open with ease as his first three receptions of the game went for touchdowns for a combined total of 129 yards. Wingate, who would end up with 135 yards total, scored his first score and the first touchdown of the game with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter to give Holy Cross a 6-0 lead.

Wingate would score again in the second quarter on a 55-yard pass from Gavalas with 9:01 remaining in the second quarter. Wingate would add a 61-yard reception and a 13-yard reception both for touchdowns before the first half was even over. He ran one in from 2 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter to complete his stellar day.

“Shyheim is mature and he’s a smart player,” Pugh said. “He’s smart on the football field and as a student. He’s an honor student and that equates to a lot.”

Gavalas had a great day himself, expanding on his great game last week against Xaverian by going 12-for-16 passing. He attributed his chemistry with Wingate to great practice.

“All week in practice we practiced these routes hard,” Gavalas said. “Shyheim always finds a way to get open. He’s a good target and I was able to find him a lot today.”

Pugh was pleased with his quarterback’s performance.

“Yianni definitely trusts some guys more than others, but he does a great job at spreading the ball around,” Pugh said. “He’s a very polished quarterback and he’s grown into a great player.”

As for Holy Trinity, third-year quarterback Christopher Laviano went 20-for-30 passing with two fumbles and was also intercepted once. Running back Joseph Ferguson had a pair of rushing touchdowns for Holy Trinity (0-3, 0-2). Laviano connected with tight end Christopher Hardtardt for a 6-yard passing touchdown. But Trinity was never able to tie and was always playing from behind.

For Holy Cross, it also had touchdowns on a 55-yard interception by defensive back Lekeith Celestain and its final touchdown came on a 4-yard run by backup quarterback Michael Loprete late in the fourth quarter.

It was a huge day for Wingate with five touchdowns, but it will be remembered for Pugh winning his 200th game.

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