Green Knights slice past Don Bosco, 16-15 by Darren Cooper of The Record
MONTVALE – A game played on the edge of emotions came down to the slimmest of margins.
A slick sidearm pass from Nick Patti to Matt Alaimo with 27.5 seconds left gave St. Joseph a thrilling 16-15 victory over Don Bosco on a heated Saturday afternoon at Dinallo Stadium in more ways than one.
We all know that every game between North Jersey non-public superpowers comes with a little extra motivation, but Saturday’s contest was played under the backdrop of allegations made three weeks ago by the Don Bosco athletic department that members of the Green Knights coaching staff was attempting to poach its players.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports, has yet to schedule a hearing on the matter. At that proceeding, the NJSIAA could levy any number of punishments against the Green Knights and its coaching staff.
It’s likely the NJSIAA was waiting for the game to be played before convening the parties together.
“I want it to be over,” said Green Knights coach Augie Hoffmann. “I want to get it out there that we do things the right way. I want everyone to know that and I think people do. I know it will go out the window, but I don’t know if it will go away, but it will be pushed away.”
What will go down in history was the drive orchestrated by Patti, the Green Knights senior quarterback bound for Pitt. He took over the ball with his team down 15-10, needing to go 80 yards, with no timeouts and 1:44 on the clock.
The joke on the Green Knights sidelines was that they were finally getting to use the two-minute drill they had practiced so often.
Patti delivered. A pass for four yards to Yasir Berry. A connection deep to Alaimo for 31. A quick slant to Fara’ad McCombs to the Ironmen 32.
After an incomplete pass allowed fans and both teams to take a short break, Patti connected with Alaimo again down to the Don Bosco 21, then a short gain of six to Gavin Sharkey.
Facing second and four at the 15, Patti escaped a blitz and rolled to his left, then falling to his side, rifled a pass to Alaimo in the end zone.
“That pass came out of there about 100 miles per hour,” said Hoffmann.
The pass came sidearm, the only pass Patti threw that way on Saturday. He said he learned the style from Phil Simms, because what North Jersey quarterback hasn’t had a lesson (or two) from the former New York Giants star?
“He was telling me that you can throw from any arm slot if you have your shoulders behind you,” said Patti. “I have been practicing that for a long time and it just came out in the game and it worked.”
On the Don Bosco side, there was disappointment. Sophomore running back Jalen Berger nearly beat the Green Knights all by himself. He finished unofficially with 200 yards of total offense, rushing and receiving and gave the Ironmen a 15-10 lead with 7:17 left on a 20-yard burst.
Up five, the Ironmen went for two. Quarterback Jahquill Batts’ pass to Tyler Dilenno was first ruled good, then not. It appeared he may have snagged it between his legs as he was going down.
“Two refs,” said Don Bosco coach Mike Teel. “Two refs said it was a catch, the third said it wasn’t. Two on one, and the ref comes in from the other side and rules it’s not.”
The Ironmen (2-4) had a chance to close it out later after a Joe Destro interception. They faced third and five at the Green Knights 37 with under two minutes left, but were called for a penalty.
Teel did not like that call either.
“I have no idea,” said Teel when asked what was called, although the signal was for illegal motion. “I don’t know if I can get in trouble like the NFL guys, but the officiating today was very, very subpar.”
Hoffmann acknowledged that there were a lot of flags thrown, seven holding penalties were whistled alone. He also complimented the Ironmen, saying that while he was hoping for a big victory, he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“I think this is the best game they played all year,” said Hoffmann. “They have a ton of good players. Berger is one of the best kids in the state, Kevin Brennan might be the best overall football player in the state. It is what it is.”
These two teams will not meet again in 2017, except at an NJSIAA hearing. Despite the loss, the Ironmen still look like they’ll be a factor in the Non-Public Group 4 playoffs, while the Green Knights (3-2) will face serious challenges in Non-Public Group 3 from surging Pope John and DePaul.
Don Bosco and St. Joe’s went their separate ways Saturday, but remain connected.
“There’s bad blood, there will be bad blood,” said Hoffmann. “I guess you need bad blood sometimes.”