DePaul holds off top-ranked St. Peter’s Prep for monster win by Greg Mattura of The Record
JERSEY CITY – DePaul has turned New Jersey football upside down and prompted Garden State gridiron fans to wonder, “What is going to happen next?”
The Spartans produced a 16-13 upset over St. Peter’s Prep, No. 1 in New Jersey and 18th in the USA TODAY Super 25 – with star senior quarterback Taquan Roberson out with an unspecified injury and on the sideline Saturday in a cap and shorts.
Backup senior quarterback Johnny Amodeo tossed a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Ronnie “Rocket” Hickman for a 16-6 lead in the third quarter, and Hickman sealed the win with a fourth-down pass breakup in the final two minutes.
DePaul (4-1) led 2-0 after St. Peter’s Prep (3-2) was called for intentional grounding on a throw from the end zone. The Spartans extended the lead to 9-0 at halftime after Hickman scored on a 2-yard run.
St. Peter’s Prep pulled within 9-6 in the third on a 27-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Maasai Maynor to senior receiver Chase Jones. The Marauders cut the deficit to 16-13 with 5:54 left in the fourth on a 1-yard run by senior running back Anthony Summey.
What it means
It means that the top of the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey Top 20 could be a muddled mess. With No. 5 DePaul defeating No. 1 St. Peter’s, who will be No. 1? Despite a 34-7 loss to St. Peter’s on Sept. 14, does No. 2 Bergen Catholic return to No. 1. Or, does No. 3 St. Joseph, which beat DePaul, 24-17, on Sept. 15, debut at No. 1? How many spots should DePaul climb? How will the eight statewide selectors vote?
By the numbers
►DePaul’s defense was outstanding despite allowing St. Peter’s 299 total yards. The Spartans’ run defense was especially stout, limiting the Marauders to 115 rushing yards, and only 26 in the first half.
►DePaul only had 160 total yards, with 55 coming on the Amodeo-to-Hickman TD pass, and led at halftime, 9-0, despite only producing 58 total yards.
No doubt, Amodeo’s 55-yard TD pass to Hickman is the choice. DePaul had just taken possession, following a fair catch, and the quarterback hit his receiver in stride up the right sideline for the 16-6 lead.
“We practice that play during the week, it’s in our playbook, Johnny made a great throw and Rocket made a great catch,” DePaul coach John McKenna said. “We took a shot and it paid off.”
How do you not pick Amodeo? The senior didn’t know he was going to make his first varsity start until Tuesday. He did not commit a turnover. He was 6-for-13 for 114 yards. And last year at Cochrane Stadium, he missed a 28-yard field goal on the final play of a 22-21 loss to St. Peter’s.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for three years,” said Amodeo, who estimates he had previously taken 30 total varsity snaps. “Every day, I’ve just been working my butt off in practice. Every sprint, I run hard, everything I do is at 110 percent.”
“We had a great quarterback out there today,” Hickman said. “Johnny came out here last-minute and he really proved to us what kind of a guy he is and showed the character he has. Huge props to Johnny for stepping up.”
They said it
“We played a 48-minute game against a tough team, and we played really hard,” McKenna said. “And quarterback Johnny Amodeo made plays when he needed to, and our defense played tremendously today.”
McKenna declined to discuss Roberson’s injury, but did say of the Penn State commit: “He’ll be fine, he’ll be back. He’ll be back next week.”
►DePaul plays at Paramus Catholic on Friday.
►St. Peter’s plays at Don Bosco on Friday.