Brother Martin struck early and continued to build against John Ehret on Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
In the end, however, the Crusaders had to hold off the Patriots, finally putting them away on Bruce Jordan-Swilling’s 22-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in a 33-24 victory.
“I’m happy about the win; (Ehret) won nine games last year, and they have a chance to do the same thing this year,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “(But) I very displeased, to say the least, with our performance.”
The Crusaders (2-0) led 27-9 after Jared West scored on a 1-yard run 28 seconds into the fourth quarter. However, Ehret (1-1) stormed back. Running back Juwan Leonard scored on a 29-yard touchdown run with 9:01 showing, and quarterback Caron Baham broke loose for a 68-yard score with 6:10 remaining. That brought the Patriots within 27-24.
A key play came next after the ensuing kickoff. On first down, Brother Martin receiver Jeremy Singleton got the ball on a reverse to the left. Ehret cornerback Taris Shanell came up to make the tackle.
A flag was thrown, assessing that Shanell had been blocked in the back. However, after the play, it was picked up and waived off as inadvertent.
“We have a lot of juniors and sophomores on our team, and they’ve got to learn when they get to a thing like that to go on to the next play,” Ehret coach Corey Lambert said. “We’ve got to learn to go on to the next play, and we’ve got to learn how to finish.”
Singleton’s reverse gave the Crusaders a first down at the 46. Four plays later, Jordan-Swilling scored.
Finishing didn’t appear as big a problem for Ehret as its start. Even though it led 2-0 after tackling West in the end zone for a 1-yard loss, Brother Martin took a 14-2 halftime lead on the passing of Jake Broggi. Broggi finished 7-of-16 for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Both of the touchdowns came in the first half. The first came on a 13-yard pass to Singleton behind the secondary in the right side of the end zone at the 5:28 mark of the second quarter. That play was set up by a 17-yard pass to Stephen Bonnafons and a 12-yard run by Singleton on consecutive plays.
The Crusaders got the ball back after their defense held the Patriots to a three-and-out. A 24-yard Ehret punt gave Brother Martin the ball at its 48 with 3:36 left. After a personal-foul penalty put the ball at the Patriots’ 30, West slipped out of the backfield and was alone on the left side. Broggi passed to him at the 20, and he trotted in the rest of the way.
Brother Martin had a commanding lead, although rushing for minus-5 yards in the first half. The Crusaders made it 17-2 on a 33-yard field goal by Glynn Morere at 7:07 of the third quarter.
However, that’s when the Patriots’ comeback began. Shanell returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the Brother Martin 14, and Baham scored on a 13-yard run two plays later. He finished with 161 yards rushing on 20 carries, with 153 coming in the second half.
However, West and Jordan-Swilling also were big in the second half. West changed from jersey No. 21, which he said was torn, to No. 22 in the second half, when he gained 56 yards of his 62 yards. Jordan-Swilling, who finished with 59 yards rushing, had 60 in the second half.
“We started very slow,” Bonis said. “We looked poor in all phases at some point. We found a way to finish against a good team.”
The Crusaders next play at Franklinton, ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 4A.