The fourth quarter brings out the best in the Don Bosco football team.
Two weeks ago, the Ironmen rallied on the road against a tough Manatee (Fla.) squad in their second game of the season. Friday night, the nation's top-ranked team came from behind once again to take down its rival Bergen Catholic in a 33-22 victory.
"Our coach always tell us we have to face adversity," senior defense back Kyle Sakowski said. "That's what we did. It can come down to four quarters and that's we train for over the summer to fight out and to always beat the other team."
Don Bosco overcame a 22-21 deficit by scoring the final 12 points of the game in its victory against Bergen in front of a standing-room only crowd of more than 5,000 people at Granatell Stadium in Ramsey, N.J. The Ironmen capitalized off a pair of turnovers to score two straight touchdowns for the go-ahead and final score in the fourth quarter.
"It feels great," senior defensive lineman Darius Hamilton said of the win. "It's always nice to blow a team out but when a game comes down to the wire that's when you find out what your team is made of and I think speaks volume for our defense."
An opportunistic defense led the way for the comeback and kept Bergen (2-2) from its own fourth quarter heroics. The Crusaders had played clean, crisp football for the first three quarters, with quarterback Jonathan Germano (20-of-36 for 253 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions) dissecting Bosco's defense. But Bosco came up with three huge turnovers that changed the game.
Trailing 22-21 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Sakowski intercepted Germano and ran the ball back to Bergen Catholic's 24-yard line. A one-yard touchdown run by Elijah Shumate, one of his three scores on the game, gave Bosco a 27-22 lead with 10:22 left that it would never relinquish.
On the following possession, Hamilton stuffed a run up the middle on fourth-and-two at the Bergen 28-yard line to force a turnover on down. Just like the previous turnover, Bosco cashed as Shumate rushed it in from four yards to give Bosco a 33-22 lead with 7:11 left.
Sakowski later added an interception with 2:05 remaining when Bergen had the ball in the redzone. Bosco forced four turnovers in total.
"We made big plays when we had to and that goes back to what our coaches tell us," Hamilton said. "Just love each other, whoever loves each other more and just being tough in situations where you need to be tough."
Hamilton, one of the leaders on the team, said his team never worries when it finds itself trailing in the fourth quarter. The team instead focuses and urges each other on to try for that victory. He added that it's important for seniors like himself and Sakowski to lead that charge, because if the seniors are not upbeat, the rest of the players wouldn't have reason to be.
It may not have been the prettiest of wins Friday night, but at the end of the day, the Ironmen live to stay atop the national polls for another week.
"Bergen has a hell of a football team and that was a hell of a game," Bosco coach Greg Toal said. "Our kids are tough, two fourth quarter games and we had more than they did. Hats off to our kids and hats off to their kids, both teams played their tales off."