A week before Halloween, Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo’s first win in the Catholic League came in fitting fashion.
The Tigers’ 38-20 victory over St. Augustine on Saturday was replete with shock and surprises.
How the Tigers (5-3, 1-2 District 9-5A) won resembled more a good mystery than a classic textbook story.
- Holy Cross managed only four first downs in the first half, but also scored four touchdowns. To St. Augustine’s horrors, big plays provided the Tigers a 28-20 halftime lead and added to the margin in the second half.
- The Tigers defense shut down the Purple Knights’ prolific passing attack in the second half, holding them scoreless.
- It was all done my throwing a gambling offense and a conservative second half defense into the cauldron.
Was the first year coach’s first district special?
“Any win in the Catholic league is so tough to get ... it has to be cherished,” Rebaudo said.
The Tigers defense intercepted three Justice McCoy passes, and two key tackles on consecutive possessions by the Knights helped lead to the Tigers’ 10 second-half points.
“We blitzed a little bit in the first half,” Rebaudo said. “We kind of settled down (in the second half) and made them work for everything. That was our adjustment.”
Following Holy Cross’ 16-play drive to midfield, Reed Gravolet punted the ball to the St. Aug 7-yard line. A penalty, and losses on two consecutive forced a Knights’ punt from the 1.
The Knights (3-4, 0-3) punted to the 33, and six plays later Gravolet kicked a 36-yarder that produced a 31-20 lead with 4:43 left.
On its next possession, St. Augustine went into catchup mode. Forced to go for a first down on a fourth-and-15 from its 28, a pass completion was stopped by Jerome Bazille’s open-field tackle at the Knights’ 28.
Holy Cross quarterback Kyle Hunter, playing for the injured Kyle Schexnayder, ran 18 yards to the 10 and eventually scored from the 1 on fourth down.
That gave the Tigers’ their 38-20 final margin.
Hunter passed for 184 yards and ran for another 33. The first two offensive plays of the game for Holy Cross produced a 50-yard touchdown run by Tre Turner 16 seconds into the game and a 58-yard touchdown pass to Michael Chigbu.
Holy Cross led 14-0 after two snaps.
“We saw something on film that we wanted to take advantage of,” Rebaudo said. “We just kind of rolled the dice a little bit.”
St. Augustine drove 65, 40 and 30 yards on three possessions in the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead.
In less than 90 seconds, a 65-yard Hunter to Darius Rodrigue pass put the Tigers on top to stay 21-20.
In the final 30 seconds of the first half, Kyle Myers raced 76 yards with an interception to make it a 28-20 game.
“They had the two big plays at the start and then the long pass and the pick-six,” St. Augustine coach Cyril Crutchfield said. “That was a lot to overcome.”