The sting isn’t one Fordham Prep plans on forgetting.
A Xavier safety and failed two-point conversion was enough to hand the Rams their fourth straight Turkey Bowl loss, 15-13, on Thanksgiving Day at Aviator Sports Complex. It is the first time Xavier has won four in a row in the 92-year history of the game since 1983-86 and it is Fordham’s second consecutive defeat to end the season.
Fordham Prep coach Pete Gorynski told his players to remember the feeling, remember hearing the Xavier fight song and remember their ride home.
“It’s a tough way to end the season, a tough way for the seniors to go out,” he said in the post game huddle “I really hope this resonates with the underclassmen so we can have a strong offseason so next year then we are back on Rose Hill we can break this streak once and for all.”
His club missed a chance to force overtime on its final drive, down 15-7 after allowing Xavier’s Michael Chiarovano to score from 7-yards out with 3:03 left in the game.
Rams sophomore quarterback Matt Valecce, who struggled to get in sync all game, led a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive. It ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal to Jack Casella that made it 15-13 with 29 seconds remaining. The 2-point conversion pass was just behind Casella and Xavier, the CHSFL Class AA champion was able to run out the clock
“It was a choppy sort of game, but we found our rhythm in the right spot, but we just couldn’t do it at the end,” said Valecce, who was 12 of 28 passing for 180 yards.
Fordham (7Â¬4) had a chance to win because Casella, Matt Conlon, Charles White and the rest of the defensive line did excellent job controlling the Knights’ running game, especially before he break. Chiarovano, who had just 42 yards at the half, carried the ball 41 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 224 a week ago against Christ the King in the ‘AA’ final.
Fordham led most of the game until Xavier (11Â¬1) recorded a safety thanks to a holding call in the end zone to go up 8-7 with 9:19 to play in the game. Gorynski said he didn’t see the play and wouldn’t criticize the officials for it, but did note that Xavier was penalty free in a game that saw few flags thrown overall.
“I’m not going to be critical, but Xavier played a perfect game,” the coach said. “Not one single flag on the Xavier kids. Not one.”
He was proud of the effort his team gave and way Valecce, who has thrown 25 touchdowns to two interceptions, kept plays alive with his legs. Fordham’s Nick Kumar picked off Giuseppe Orlando in the first quarter an the Anthony Gjelaj ripped the ball away from a leaping Michael D’Onofrio in the end zone to end the half.
“I thought our kids played very well,” Gorynski said.
Fordham Prep led 7-0 going into the break. Valecce scrambled and connected on a 51-yard pass down the right sideline to Rory Allen to the Xavier 28-yard line. Two plays later the Rams were in the end zone when Valecce found Will Loffredo for a 6-yard touchdown.
Xavier got on the board on the opening drive of the second half as it went 80 yards in 15 plays. Chiarovano capped it with a 2-yard touchdown run, but Matthew Lydon’s extra point attempt was no good. The Rams still led 7-6. Lydon redeemed himself by collecting an interception and pining Fordham at its 2-yard line with a punt before the safety.
It was plays like that will leave Fordham Prep hungry to get back and write a different ending to its season next year.
“We internalize it, we use it as motivation,” Valecce said. “Motivation to get in the weight room, work hard and come out here and beat these guys at Rose Hill.”
Cardinal Hayes 46, Mount St. Michael 14: Christian Anderson threw three touchdown passes, including a 90-yard strike to Shameen Jones to open the scoring for the Cardinals (9-3). Justin Covington scored twice on the ground, including a 70-yard scoring scamper. Brion Vigo scored on the ground and caught a touchdown and Carlos Fernandez added a rushing score. It is Hayes third straight Turkey Bowl win over Mount (1-10).