Derek Robertson had dissected the St. Anthony’s defense all evening. The Iona Prep quarterback had completed 37 of 54 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns.
But in the end it would be his last pass that mattered most. St. Anthony’s clung to a three-point lead and Robertson faced a fourth-and-3 at the Friars’ 21 with 1:03 left in a CHSFL AAA Division game that woul determine the regular-season champion and the top seed in the playoffs.
Robertson checked down at the line and fired a perfect spiral in the direction of tight end Sean Fleming on the out pattern. St. Anthony’s defensive back James Errante anticipated the throw and batted the ball away from the intended receiver to set off a wild sideline celebration for the Friars with 55 seconds left.
Before the capacity crowd could settle back into their seats, St. Anthony’s quarterback Greg Campisi brought them to their feet again when he sealed a 43-33 win with an electrifying 79-yard TD run down the home sideline.
Campisi’s dash with 48 seconds left punctuated St. Anthony’s victory over Iona Prep Friday night in a pivotal football game in South Huntington.
The win gives St. Anthony’s (5-0, 6-1) a first-round bye in the playoffs. Iona Prep fell to 5-1.
“I knew he was going outside and I jumped the route,” Errante said. “It was an amazing feeling.”
The defensive gem came after a long night for the Friars secondary. “I really believe winning the regular season is harder than winning the championship,” St. Anthony’s coach Rich Reichert said. “It was important for our kids to close out this win.”
Campisi completed 15 of 22 passes for 212 yards and three TDs and ran for another two scores and 152 yards.
“I knew the defense thought we’d try to run the clock out,” Campisi said. “And I told myself if I saw a hole I was going to take it. It was a game that showed we could face adversity and still turn it around and come out with a win.”
Campisi’s 38-yard TD toss to Makhai Murphy had given the Friars a 36-26 lead with 4:02 left. Murphy corralled the pass at the Gaels’ 20 and ran over two defenders on his way to the end zone.
Not to be outdone, Robertson drove the Gaels 80 yards in seven plays capped by a 39-yard TD toss to Ryan Soules to make it 36-33 with 2:03 remaining.
Iona Prep recovered the ensuing onsides kick and Robertson was set up to crush St. Anthony’s bid for another title. He completed three passes for 31 yards to the Friars 21 before the final throw of the evening.
“This was a must-win game for us,” Campisi said. “But the ultimate goal was to win the game for Coach Reichert. We have so much respect for him.”