St. John's Eagles Football '07

Thu, Nov 22, 2007 10:15 AM @ St. John's
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Xaverian 0 7 3 7 17
St. John's 7 0 0 14 21
Xaverian Brothers 17, St. John's Prep 21. » Matthew Viglianti, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Coppola, late rally powers St. John's Prep past Xaverian in season finale

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Thursday, November, 22 By Jean DePlacido

DANVERS | Derek Coppola saved his best game of the season for last.

The senior rushed for 213 yards and a pair of scores, including the game-winner with just over a minute remaining, to carry St. John's Prep to a 21-17 victory over arch rival Xaverian.

Carrying the ball a workhorse-like 31 times on the day, Coppola's final run, a 20-yard score, sent the home fans at Cronin Field happy. The Eagles ended their season in second place in the Catholic Conference at 3-1, finishing 6-5 overall.

Trailing the Hawks 17-14 in the fourth quarter, Coppola engineered the final drive with a lot of help from fellow captain Scott Darby, the Prep's senior quarterback.

The lead had seesawed back and forth in the final quarter, with St. John's grabbing a 14-10 advantage on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Darby to sophomore Brendon Felder on a fourth down play. Felder tight-roped up the right sideline into the end zone with 4:56 remaining for the go-ahead score.

But the visiting Hawks (5-6) answered right back on the arm of junior quarterback Anthony Varrichione. He completed passes of 22 and 50 yards to his favorite target, Tomas Kearney. Two plays later, he hit Matt Guay in the end zone on a 3-yard TD strike, his ninth of the season, to give Xaverian a three-point lead with 2:21 remaining.

The Eagles once again trailed, but confidently put the ball in Coppola's hands. He adroitly changed directions to elude would-be tacklers for a 40-yard scamper to the Hawks' 29-yard line. Two plays later he took a pitch from Darby and raced up the right sideline from 20 yards out to put his team ahead for good.

"Everybody knew we were going to Derek," said Prep head coach Jim O'Leary. "We looked at the stats at halftime and saw only two of our runs were for less than five yards, so we came out knowing we were going to run the ball. Felder made a big play on the fourth down touchdown | if he didn't get a first down there, the game was over.

"Derek was very determined to leave here a winner," added O'Leary, "and Darby played very well. He's a veteran who was very calm on that last drive."

O'Leary lauded his seniors for leading the Eagles to victory yesterday morning. In what has been an up and down season, he said, prevailing on Thanksgiving made up for a lot of things.

"It's not that we haven't worked hard, because we have. But we didn't come out on top in some games we could have," said O'Leary. "That's why winning on Thanksgiving is a great feeling that makes up for that."

Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson had nothing but praise for the effort St. John's Prep made to come from behind not once, but twice, to win this contest.

"Our defense wore out (yesterday)," said Stevenson. "St. John's was more physical at the line of scrimmage. They went to their strength (Coppola) and made the big plays when they had to."

St. John's Prep needed one last defensive stop in the final minute, and the defense was able to prevent Varrichione from going deep. He was sacked by the Eagles' James Winn but was somehow able to get away | only to have Aaron Rutses bring him down for a 14-yard loss. On the ensuing fourth down play, his long sideline pass was overthrown.

A fumble recovery by Prep's Brian Keenan had set up Coppola's first score. Xaverian's Paul Freeman fumbled and Keenan fell on the ball at his own 44-yard line. On the next play, Coppola broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown run. Andy McTeague kicked the first of three extra points to give St. John's the early lead.

The Hawks answered just before halftime on a 75-yard, seven-play drive capped by Freeman's touchdown run from a yard out to knot it up at intermission, 7-7.

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1 Story Comments

0         ppierce365

If I'm O'Leary, I'm breathing a sigh of relief right now, he made a lot of mistakes in this game, and should have be fired if they lost.

Report! #1 12/29/2007 11:21 AM