SCHUYLERVILLE — It had been more than two months since Holy Trinity trailed in a football game, but there it was, down a touchdown, less than four minutes into Saturday's state Class C quarterfinal game with Ogdensburg Free Academy.
The Pride wasn't down for long. They answered with 27 straight points.
"It made us push harder," Holy Trinity junior Nelon Priest said. "When stuff goes down, we put it away. We keep going. We don't want anybody hanging their head."
Heads were raised high again after Holy Trinity was through making big plays on both sides of the ball in a 41-14 regional victory at Schuylerville High School.
Joe Tortello threw four touchdowns for the fourth consecutive playoff game, and Priest intercepted three passes and ran 73 yards for the last touchdown inside the final minute.
"We haven't been down all year," Tortello, a sophomore, said after being named the game's most outstanding offensive player. "We've got a tough group of guys. We're battle tested. We got behind and we came back."
The final outcome was similar to three previous postseason games — a breakthrough for the Holy Trinity program that's been around since 2014.
Holy Trinity's playoff past before this season consisted of a one-and-done at Hoosic Valley last fall.
"It's been awesone," Holy Trinity coach John Barber said. "I never could have dreamed this."
Holy Trinity will see state semifinal action next Saturday at 11 a.m. at Middletown High School against either Section I's Albertus Magnus or Section IX's Burke Catholic. The Pride beat last year's state Class C runner-up in OFA to earn their spot in the final four.
"Winning the [Section II] Super Bowl, that was our first goal," Tortello said of a 34-12 win against Stillwater last week. "Now we have a second goal to go after."
Tortello was 11-for-15 for 223 yards with an interception, and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jordan Mettler and others to Nacier Hundley and Noah Foster. Three of those TDs came after key defensive plays by the Pride (10-1).
"Our defense was top-notch," Tortello said. "Our line blocked great. Our receivers made catches."
Tortello found Hundley in a seam, and the sophomore receiver raced 77 yards as Holy Trinity's lead grew to 20-6 with 26 seconds left i, the opening half. Priest's first interception set that touchdown up, and his second pick led to a 67-yard scoring pass to Foster in the final quarter.
"What do you say?" Barber said of his defensive cast. They were awesome. They're amazing. A lot of guys made great plays."
Jake Cross and Cam Kiser combined to tackle OFA running back Jared Barr for no gain on a fourth-and-one play from the Holy Trinity 39 in the third quarter. Four plays later, Tortello found Mettler with a touchdown pass from the nine.
"We haven't been behind since Week 2,"' Barber said of Holy Trinity's lone loss, 38-34, against Mechanicville on Sept. 8. "They did what they've been doing."
Holy Trinity punter Nick Pacini was tackled after a low snap when the Pride stalled on their first drive, and four plays later OFA (Section X,. 9-2) scored on a 36-yard pass from Mike Reed to Wyatt Kirby. Holy Trinity's answer began later in the quarter when Tortello passed 7 yards to Mettler. A 3-yard scoring run by Dion Sexton put the Pride ahead for good in the second quarter, that part of Sexton's 16-carry, 86-yard effort.
Priest delivered his long TD run after his third interception in the end zone ended OFA's final scoring bid.
"Where ever a play goes, all 11 of us attack the ball," Priest said.
OFA 6 0 8 0 — 14
Holy Trinity 6 14 7 14 — 41
OFA — Kirby 36 pass from Reed (pass failed)
HT — Mettler 7 pass from Tortello (run failed)
HT — Sexton 3 run (Clement kick)
HT — Hundley 77 pass from Tortello (Clement kick)
HT — Mettler 9 pass from Tortello (Clement kick)
OFA — Ives 4 pass from Reed (Troiano pass from Reed)
HT — Foster 67 pass from Tortello (Clement kick)
HT — Priest 73 run (Clement kick)