St. Anthony's school-record 29-game winning streak came to a screeching, skidding halt, as the perennial CHSFL champions were victims of Friday Night Might.
Bergen Catholic put on an offensive fireworks show worthy of the Grucci brothers, defeating the Friars, 59-21, in a non-league matchup of metro-area powerhouses before an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 at St. Anthony's. Several hundred of those fans wore red and made the trip from Oradell, N.J. They had much more to cheer about than the local fans.
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Quarterback Jonathan Germano was the Roman candle in the Crusaders' dazzling display, lighting up the night by completing 13 of 18 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Running back James Dawson contributed 132 yards on 20 carries.
The Friars, who have won 10 of the last 11 CHSFL championships including the last three, were plagued by four turnovers and an inability to cover Bergen Catholic's receivers. On many of Germano's passes, his targets were wide open.
St. Anthony's moved the ball well early, but quarterback Greg Galligan made an errant pitch that was recovered by Bergen, ending a promising first-quarter drive. Germano made the Friars pay, hitting John Feaster on a 66-yard scoring pass down the left sideline. Galligan misjudged another pitchout on the next drive, and it was recovered in the end zone by Danny Grasso for a touchdown.
Germano connected with A.J. Gallagher for a 24-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter to make it 24-0. St. Anthony's, whose defense was its strongest suit in an unbeaten 2011 season, finally broke through when Naim Jones scored on a 5-yard run. He also caught a 25-yard pass on the drive.
Any thoughts the Friars had of climbing back into the game were snuffed out when the Crusaders marched 80 yards in 38 seconds to score with 10 seconds left in the first half. The dagger of a touchdown came on a 37-yard pass from Germano to J.J. Kulcsar.
The second half did offer a glimpse of the future for St. Anthony's, as sophomore running back Jordan Gowins, younger brother of former Bellport star Eddie Gowins, scored on a 52-yard run and showed power and speed in compiling 124 yards on 12 carries.
But he was just a sparkler on a night when the Crusaders had the loudest and brightest of the fireworks.
"That was one of the challenges of booking Bergen Catholic," coach Rich Reichert said in a summer camp interview with Newsday. Reichert remains tied with Joe Cipp Jr. at 211 wins, most in Suffolk County history. "Guys said, 'What about the streak?' I said, 'Who cares about the streak?' The streak is going to end sometime. We're going to play the best competition we can play. If we get our butts kicked, so what? It's a non-league game and we learn from that."