One last stop, and the Super Bowl trophy was heading back to Christian Brothers Academy.
“They get the block and they have all the momentum,” said CBA senior Max Anthony. “We knew a touchdown would win the game for them. We knew what we had to do, and we stepped up to the plate.”
Jonas Neri tackled Michael Lewis five yards shy of the end zone with no time showing on the clock, and CBA held off Shaker, 13-8, in the Section II Class AA championship game Friday night at Bob Ford Field.
Both teams were hit with untimely penalties, and two of those erased Blue Bison touchdowns, throwing a wrench in their plans to repeat as the area’s best large-school team.
“To win a game like this, you can’t have two touchdowns called back,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “We’ve been hit a couple of times with penalties this year, and you hope it won’t happen. Bad timing.”
Nick Griffin gave the Blue Bison (8-2) hope, though, when he reached high and blocked a punt with 1:26 left. CBA (8-1) answered with its final defensive stand capped by Neri’s hit on Shaker’s star player of the game.
“The kids toughened up. They rallied together,” CBA coach Joe Burke said. “They did the things they were supposed to do.”
Joe Kolbe threw a touchdown pass on the second play of the game to stake the Brothers to a lead, and the sophomore quarterback scored on a one-yard sneak as CBA built a 13-8, second quarter lead. Elliott Croskey turned in his 10th 100-yard performance with 108 on 16 carries, and Don Vivian intercepted a pass as part of the Brothers’ eighth straight victory.
CBA won its first championship since 2006 and the third in program history while denying a Shaker repeat after the Bison blanked Shenendehowa a year ago, 14-0.
“Last year, we watched Shaker beat Shenendehowa. We were leaning on the fence and said, ‘We want to be here,’ ” said Anthony.
“This is great for CBA. This is great for the CBA community and alumni,” said Burke. “I’m especially happy for the seniors. When we took the program over four years ago, they were our first group of freshmen. They worked so hard and did such a great job.”
Lewis’ big effort included nine receptions from Shaker quarterback Matt Woods covering 134 yards, and Jake Quay ran 21 times for 75 yards, with his eight-yard touchdown run giving the Blue Bison an 8-6 advantage in the opening quarter. Russell Bird recovered a fumble to end a CBA drive, and Griffin’s block set up Shaker’s last one at the Brothers’ 27.
“I had total confidence in them. They played great all year,” Kolbe said of the CBA defense. “They fullfilled every expectation of how good they are.”
Lewis caught passes covering 10 and eight yards sandwiched in between one-yard runs by Woods to begin Shaker’s final scoring bid, moving the ball to the seven. Anthony followed with a hit on Quay in the backfield that left the ball at the 10 as time ticked away.
Woods took a snap with a second left, but an illegal procedure call pushed Shaker back to the 15. Lewis leaped for a Woods’ pass on the game’s final play, and just after making the catch, Neri took his legs out.
Quay had a one-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty early in the fourth quarter, and CBA held on downs. An 86-yard touchdown catch by Lewis was erased in the third quarter due to an illegal block from behind, and the Brothers again held afterward.
Kolbe hooked up with Ryan O’Hagan on a 70-yard touchdown bomb 55 seconds into the contest.
“That helped us, but it was how we played after that won the game,” said Kolbe.
Shaker scored all of its points soon after O’Hagan’s touchdown. The Blue Bison got a safety when Alex Koshgarian lost the handle on a punt return and the ball rolled through the end zone. Quay got his touchdown on Shaker’s ensuing drive, just after Lewis made a seven-yard catch on fourth-and-six.
Croskey had a 24-yard run and Austin Ellis took a screen pass 16 yards to help set up Kolbe’s sneak into the end zone. Vivian ended Shaker’s series that followed with an interception after the Blue Bison had marched to the Brothers’ 16.
“We knew it was going to be a complete grind,” said Anthony, CBA’s middle linebacker and fullback. “It was unbelievable defense on both sides. In the end, we got it done.”
Shaker 8 0 0 0 — 8
CBA 6 7 0 0 — 13
C — O’Hagan 70 pass from Kolbe (kick failed).
S — Safety.
S — Quay 8 run (kick failed).
C — Kolbe 1 run (Hamel kick).