SPRING VALLEY – Senior night at Hall High School had everything a classic rivalry game should have with each team leaving it on the field.
But after being dominated for most of the first three quarters by a methodical Hall offense, St. Bede found a way to rally from a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to escape with a 15-12 victory.
“In the first half we stopped ourselves on offense and couldn’t stop them on defense, so we made some adjustments at halftime and did a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage in the second half,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said.
The game began with the Hall defense – led by seniors Ashton Gagliardo, Marshal Schmollinger and Dominic Guerrini – forcing the Bruins into a quick three-and-out.
Hall’s drive stalled at the Bruins’ 35-yard line, but not before chewing up a large amount of the first period.
The next possession for the Bruins carried over into the second period, and St. Bede quarterback John Brady (72 yards rushing, 51 yards passing) brought the Bruins to the Hall 18 with a 21-yard scamper.
However, the Hall defense held and the Red Devils took over at their own 18 with 9:30 left in the half.
Hall embarked on a 16-play, 82-yard march to the end zone, capped by a 3-yard plunge from Guerrini and the Devils led 6-0 and left the Bruins with only 1:10 left in the half.
The score remained 6-0 as the teams retreated to the locker rooms for halftime.
Hall picked up right where it left off in the second half with Mac Resetich (107 yards rushing and a TD) running hard behind his offensive line of Connor Craig, Joel Koch, Schmollinger, Ryan Kerper and John Davis to go on a 77-yard, 10 play journey to double the lead on the Bruins at 12-0.
Resetich converted a fourth down on the drive with a second effort run and the Red Devils used three third down conversions to chew up nearly 8 minutes of the quarter.
Just as St. Bede began to get its offense rolling, the Red Devil defense forced a fumble and took the ball back at their own 28.
But the Bruin defense turned up the intensity as Callan Hueneburg and Ben Koyak thwarted a Hall third-and-7 run to set up a fourth-and-2 on the Hall 38.
With their offense chewing up yardage, the Red Devils decided to go for it only to have a slew of Bruin defenders slam the door, led by Koyak, Anton Cain, Ryan Heersink, Sam Bima, Ben Burke and Jayee Ladzinski.
On St. Bede’s first play of the ensuing drive, Brady found a crossing Ben Wallace for 22 yards.
On the next play, Brady rumbled up the middle to set the Bruins up first-and-goal.
Luke Story (27 yards) punched it in from 5 yards out to pull the Bruins within 12-7 with 10:14 left.
The Red Devils’ next drive stalled, and Cain streaked in from the right side and smothered the punt to set up St. Bede on the Hall 37.
The Bruin offense began to march with 7:34 to go, moving down to the 25 before being faced with a fourth-and-2.
Brady took the ball and followed Joe Bima and Burke off the left side for 6 yards and a first down.
Brady again turned up big and rushed the ball down to the 7 before Story scored his second touchdown of the night.
The Bruins would lined up for a 2-point conversion and Brady found Wallace to build the lead to 15-12 with 2:47 to play.
“He is a gamer,” Eustice said about Brady. “He only thinks about the next play. He made a few overthrows in the first half but put that behind him and made some big plays when we needed him down the stretch.”
After a pair of Bruin personal fouls set Hall up with good field position at the Bruin 41, the St. Bede defense had one more stand, led by a huge sack on third down by Ethan Sramek to force a fourth-and-7, and following an incomplete pass the Bruins were able to run out the clock and hold on to a victory.
“This group of kids might not have the most talent but they play and work very hard and tonight a win would have been special for them,” Hall coach Nick Guerrini said. “But give St. Bede credit. They came back on us and maybe wanted it a little more. It’s a shame either team had to lose this game.”