St. John the Baptist defeated Kennedy Catholic, 49-27, in CHSFL action at St. John the Baptist on Saturday March 27, 2021. Credit: Newsday / Owen O'Brien/Owen O'Brien

Mark Anthony Scott nearly turned his opening carry into six points before being tripped up after a 33-yard run in the first quarter. But when it came time for his first carry of the second half, the St. John the Baptist running back wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.

It was no surprise after rushing for 145 yards in the first half that Scott opened the second half with the ball in his hands. When a wall of defenders met him at the line of scrimmage, Scott reversed field for an 80-yard touchdown to break a tie at 27 in host St. John the Baptist’s 49-27 victory over Kennedy Catholic in CHSAA football Saturday afternoon.

"That was an effort play there," Scott said. "They had me stopped in the backfield and I just had to make a play out of no play and it felt really good. It was far, but it was good."

Scott finished with 260 yards and on 18 carries in the victory. Scott typically splits carries with Jayden Louis, who is committed to play at LIU. But with Louis missing the game because of an injury, Scott proved ready to take on the additional workload.

"I knew I had to be a leader," Scott said. "I had to fill his role for right now. Hopefully, he gets better, but I just had to fill the role and lead the team and take his position for this game."

St. John the Baptist (2-0) and Kennedy Catholic played an entertaining, high-scoring opening half with the score tied at 27 at intermission. But the Cougars defense made key second-half adjustments to shut out Kennedy Catholic over the final 24 minutes.

"We knew they were going to come out ready to play," said linebacker Christopher Annitto, who had two sacks. "We did make some adjustments at halftime, switched up the coverages a little bit and we just kept flying."

Kennedy Catholic (1-2) scored the game’s first touchdown before St. John the Baptist answered with three of the next four scores. Bryce Robinson, who had four receptions for 99 yards, reeled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Chase for St. John the Baptist’s first score. Scott had a 1-yard touchdown run and, following a Kennedy Catholic touchdown, and Randolph Ramnarace rushed for an 8-yard score to give the Cougars a 20-13 lead with 5:33 left in the second quarter.

"As a quarterback, you live for those games," said Chase, who completed 9 of 13 passes for 157 yards. "This is one of the most fun games I’ve ever had in my life, just back and forth, back and forth … they are a great team and it was just a great, great win."

St. John the Baptist coach Philip Alba credited multiple players for filling Louis’ production. But he had no doubt Scott was ready to lead the backfield.

"While it hurts to lose a Jayden Louis, I knew it meant Mark was going to get more carries," Alba said. "And I knew given an opportunity, he was going to produce and take advantage of it."

Chase and Scott credited the offensive line of Eric Furno, Andrew Unterschuetz, James Bossone, Brain Moloney and Joseph Fasolino for creating the holes to run and generating time to throw.

St. John the Baptist expected a strong showing from Kennedy Catholic. The Cougars just wanted to make sure they could answer the scores. "We knew their offense was very good and we were ready to come out firing as well," Chase said. "They scored first, but we had to pick up our defense, fire right back and that was kind of the name of the game the whole game — just firing back."