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Kellenberg loses battle to Cardinal Hayes in three OTs

Brendan Leahy of Kellenberg Memorial high school charges

Brendan Leahy of Kellenberg Memorial high school charges toward the end zone to score during the first half of a CHSFL football game on Friday, October 22, 2021 in Uniondale. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Kellenberg defensive players walked off the field in stunned disbelief. It was as if someone had grabbed a remote control, hit the mute button and aimed it right at the Firebirds and their sideline.

After three overtimes — and three hours of real time — Kellenberg lost a heartbreaking 55-49 triple-overtime decision to visiting Cardinal Hayes in a CHSFL game on Friday night.

Kellenberg threw an interception to open the third overtime. Cardinals Hayes quarterback Henry Belin — who bedeviled the Firebirds throughout the game — then threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Victor DeFelice that ended the marathon session at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

"Our kids battled," Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said, "but they didn’t finish."

They also had trouble with Belin.

The electric 6-3, 210-pounder accounted for six of the Cardinals' eight touchdowns and 362 of Cardinal Hayes' 457 yards of total offense. Belin was 20-for-30 passing for 240 yards and three TDs, including a 14-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-goal in the first overtime that continued the game.

He added 122 yards rushing and three more scores on nine carries. Cardinal Hayes (3-5, 3-3) never led until the final play.

Hanifan, in his 26th and final season as Kellenberg head coach, recalled another wild contest in his career.

"This is my second triple-overtime game," he said. "[It was] 1999. We beat Xavier at St. John’s University, 43-40."

Kellenberg (3-4, 3-3) wasn’t as fortunate on this night and watched 14-point leads vanish on three different occasions. Three of the Firebirds’ four losses this season are by a combined 13 points.

"We just have to finish off plays," said running back Brendan Leahy, who had 77 yards rushing and two TDs on 16 carries plus two receptions, including an 11-yard scoring catch. "They were able to finish unlike us."

Kellenberg led 35-21 after quarterback Ethan Greenwood, who didn’t play until the final series of the first half, found Jaden Lyons on a 18-yard TD pass with 4:10 left in the third quarter. Cardinal Hayes scored two minutes later, and again on a 64-yard TD run by Belin with 8:29 remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Greenwood finished 8-for-16 passing for 82 yards with two scores and the interception — the only turnover by either team. He added 48 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Devin Page started the game at quarterback for the Firebirds and was fantastic. The 6-5 junior was 13-for-17 passing for 184 yards and two scores, and added 43 yards rushing on five carries with a TD.

"We just fought so hard," Leahy said. "It was a long game, three overtimes, back and forth. You don’t want to be the loser of this one. It’s a tough pill to swallow."

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