Paramus- The Paladins escaped a close one in front of a crowd nearly 5000 in Friday night clash in their home opener outlasting DePaul Catholic 27-20. The storyline was surrounded by Paramus Catholic All American linebacker Drew Singleton who was sidelined by a knee injury. Singleton had experienced some discomfort in preseason with the knee so the Paladins took precautionary measures to rest him.
It took a valiant effort by the Paladins’ defense with 10.4 seconds remaining in the game to seal the deal. The Spartans had four cracks to tie the game late in the fourth quarter but the Paladins secondary stepped up to the challenge when it matter the most after a very shaky first half of giving up big plays in between the hashes.
Paramus Catholic quarterback Andrew Brito sealed the deal with a 3-yard quarterback touchdown run on a read option play with 3:54 left in the third quarter, which let the air out of the Spartans and intensify its defense with a wild three touchdowns turnaround.
“I don’t want to be one of those coaches that’s too hard or anything, because I am happy we pulled it out and we persevered through and everything at the end, but we made it a lot harder on ourselves than we had to. We are not going to beat teams in our league if we have another performance like this. Paramus Catholic head coach Dan Sabella said.
The Spartans took a 12-6 into the half, Andrew Brito marched Paramus Catholic on a nine-play, 67-yard drive ending it with a 5-yard pass to Javon Turner to take a 13-12 lead.
A few minutes later, the Paramus Catholic made it an eight-point lead after the Spartans muffed a punt; set them up on DePaul’s 3-yard line. Running back Jonathan Clark took it in from one- yard line.
The Paladins made it a 27-12 game late in the third and seem to have the game in hand, the Spartans (0-1) responded with a long drive of their own 12 plays covering 72 yards elapsed over 4 minutes capped off with a Vinnie Depalmas’ 3-yard touchdown jaunt and two-point conversion conversion, to make it a one-score game.
The Paladins kept their poise with the offense was spearheaded by Junior guard Zion Hughes who kept opening massive holes for the backs to gash through. “ I am on a mission this year and every game I have to step it up. I just told everybody just do your job and stay on the task at hand. Said Zion Hughes. By the end of the season every DI school will know number 55 name.
The Spartan went with a two-quarterback system with Sophomore Taquan Roberson and highly touted Junior Sheldon Applewhite the whole game that seem to work in the first half but fizzled in the second half of play.
The quarterbacks alternated series throughout the night, with Applewhite getting the start. Applewhite in the first half marched the Spartans on two consecutive field-goal drives, while Roberson sustain a drive for the Spartans to take an early 9-0 edge on his first possession of the night. Roberson drived was capped off by a Depalma lead from 2 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff, Paramus Catholic’s Alijah Jackson made two cuts up the field for an 88-yard return that set up the Paladins 1st-and-goal from the DePaul’s 2-yard line and Andrew Brito took it in from the two yard line, his first touchdown run of the night.
“I’ve been doing this a while now and I’ve had teams that could have quit after the third quarter. Our kids just battled. They battled to the end. We were within 20 yards of tying it up. We’ll get there. We’ll eliminate those mistakes and we’ll get better.” DePaul head coach John McKenna said.