St. Paul’s junior quarterback Anthony Pino teamed up with senior wide receiver Tre Hamer for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left to lift the Crusaders to a 19-14 victory over Archbishop Curley in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game in Severn Saturday night.
It was the second straight title for St. Paul’s.
The Crusaders won the championship last year on a busted play in overtime to edge John Carroll, 28-27.
"I don't know what it is," St. Paul's coach Paul Bernstorf said of his team's late-game heroics the last two seasons. "It just the way we play. Our kids just believe we are going to win. Somehow, someway, God helps us win. I can't explain it."
Senior linebacker Keifer Rawlings helped the Crusaders claim their latest title by recovering Archbishop Curley running back Marty Costes' fumble to set up the winning score, which was the next play.
Rawlings also rushed for a touchdown and had 62 yards on 12 carries as the Crusaders finished with a 172 yards on the ground. Senior back Kaylon Johnson led the winners with 84 yards rushing on 16 attempts.
The way Pino was throwing the ball, the Crusaders (9-1) didn't just have to rely on their rushing attack. He completed nine of 14 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Hamer became his favorite target in the game, catching four passes for 135 yards and two scores.
It was Rawlings who put St. Paul’s on the scoreboard first when he broke several tackles on a 23-yard run with 2:29 remaining in the opening quarter. It capped a 63-yard, 11-play drive.
Curley (9-2) roared back, needing only two plays to score when Costes (159 yards, 25 carries, 2 TDs) went 62 yards up the middle. Mike Tumminello’s extra point went wide left.
The Friars pushed their lead to 12-7 in the middle of the second quarter on another Costes touchdown run — one of eight yards. Four plays earlier, Costes fumbled at team's 42 after going 15 yards, but teammate Garrett Reynolds recovered it and ran down to the St. Paul’s 19.
After the touchdown, Costes ran in the 2-point conversion.
Curley got the ball right back when Sam Seymore recovered an onside kick on the St. Paul’s 45. The Friars moved down to the 27, but couldn’t convert a 4th-and-4.
Curley threatened to score late in the first half after Derrick Wright recovered a Johnson fumble on the 36.
The Friars moved down to the 16 and on the last play of the second quarter, Costes’ halfback-option pass to Deonte Harris was intercepted by junior corner back Allan Loikoi at the 4-yard line.
St. Paul’s scored on its first possession of the second half. Pino hit Hamer on a comeback route at the Curley 40. He then eluded a defender and outraced another defender for a 57-yard touchdown as the Crusaders cut the lead to 14-13.
Kicker Griffin Welch missed the extra point. He was filling in for senior Jordan Duke, who broke his foot Friday.
That play may not have gone the Crusaders' way, but enough things did for St. Paul's to win another title.
"Last year, we had one of the most talented teams in the state," Rawlings said. "I thought we could have played with anybody. We lost a lot of seniors. A lot of people had doubts about us. Last year, we had the skill. This year, we had the heart."