WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. –Stepinac quarterback Naquiss “You can call me Mark” White slashed into the end zone in overtime and teammate Vincent Narog scored the game-winning touchdown on a long run as the Crusaders pulled out a 27-21 victory Saturday in the Catholic Schools AAA semifinal at Stepinac High School.
“I think the most important part of my touchdown run was that it changed the momentum of the game,” said Narog, who also helped teammate Austin Taps force a fumble that ended Xaverian’s last play in overtime. “We came out in the second half and were able to put some points up. On the strip, we both had Kearney (quarterback). I made the hit and Austin stripped it.”
The Crusaders (8-2), the No. 2 seed and Catholic High Schools AA defending champion, earned a spot in next Saturday’s AAA final against defending champion St. Anthony’s (10-0) to be played at Mitchell Field in Hempstead, Long Island at 7 p.m. It is the first AAA title game in Crusaders football history.
Xaverian scored first on a short run to take a 7-0 lead, but Stepinac answered with Dan Hoffer’s 13-yard touchdown pass and the score stayed at 7-7 going into halftime. White scored on a keeper for a 14-7 lead and Narog swept left end on a reverse for 75 yards and a touchdown to put the score at 21-7 before Xaverian made its comeback.
“It was an unbelievable win facing a great team,” White said. “All last week we knew that it was going to be a battle and that we had to bring our A game. We had a good week of practice and everything we have worked for in the off-season and in the weight room and on the practice field was put on display in OT. It could not have been better than that. This win meant so much to our program and to our team as a family. This week we will practice the same way we have last week and stay focused as we face a great team.”
Stepinac would not be able to relax and enjoy its lead, fumbling twice in the fourth quarter to set up Xaverian’s offense. The visitors scored on a touchdown pass with 7:50 remaining to set up the overtime session.
Narog sees next week’s challenge as a good way to finish the AAA run. St. Anthony’s rolled to a 55-29 regular-season win but both teams know each other well and have the ability to adapt in game.
“This seems like our offense always makes big plays but consistency will be the key to winning this game against St. Anthony’s,” he said, “As long as our offense plays without mistakes, it’s very hard to stop. And with the way our defense is playing, we’re coming together at the right time.”