Chaminade-Madonna gambled Friday afternoon and Cardinal Gibbons cashed in.
The host Lions went for it on fourth-and-11 from the 41 and four plays after stopping quarterback Henry Colombi for no gain on a broken scramble, Gibbons junior Carlos Sandy scampered into the end zone with 1:57 remaining to give the Chiefs a 28-21 victory.
The Lions (1-1) went into the fourth up 21-14 only to watch Sandy and the Chiefs ruin their day.
“We had a trick play lined up and it worked out better than we thought it would,’’ said Sandy, who turned a catch-and-run from Nikolas Scalzo into an 88-yard game to set up the game-tying touchdown. “We lost to them last year, but this time, we came out to play and walk out with a W.’’
With the score tied at 14 going into the third, the host Lions turned Bradley Royes’ interception in the end zone and marched 79 yards in eight plays and retook the lead on a 31-yard strike from Colombi to Josh Ali.
After two lost possessions — one on a questionable spot by the officials on fourth down — Gibbons finally got something going in the fourth despite being backed up against their own end zone.
Up 21-14, Colombi was picked off by Ronald Hardge at the 1. An offside call — one of 17 charged to the Lions — gave the Chiefs a little breathing room.
On first down, Scalzo sent a wobbling pass toward the right sideline. Sandy out-leaped the coverage, hauled the pass in and sprinted down the field before being hauled down inside the 10. Two plays later and Gibbons tied it on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Scalzo to James Bostic III.
Tied at 21, the Lions had a prime chance to take the lead when the Chiefs fumbled a punt at midfield with five minutes left.
Yet on fourth down, the Lions went for a first down and Gibbons’ defense — one which didn’t look like it was going to stop Chaminade much at least not early on — clamped down and got the ball back.
Gibbons quickly moved the ball up field with Scalzo and Bostic hooking up for a 31-yard gain on first down before Dave Small bulled down to the 13.
On second down and goal from the 9, Sandy charged around from the right side, took the handoff and wasn’t touched as he charged into the end zone.
Chaminade didn’t get much of anything going on its final possession with Diashun Moss picking off Colombi on a third-and-20 from the 17. The Chiefs were able to run out the clock.
“We have been preaching this since May and I’m just proud of our team,’’ said coach Matt Dubuc, now 3-0 in his first season after replacing long time coach and current athletic director/assistant coach Mike Morrill.
“We weren’t supposed to win; no one picked us. They didn’t know about us. Hopefully everyone understands now that we have a talented group.’’
New Chaminade coach Dameon Jones, who replaced Jason Milgrom when he resigned a day before practice began, didn’t want to talk much about the decision to go for it on fourth down nor much of anything else following the loss.
The Lions stormed down the field on their first possession only to fumble. On their second, Colombi and ran it in from the 19 to give Chaminade a 7-0 lead. The Lions also led 14-7 when Colombi and Xavier Williams connected on a 64-yard touchdown.
“There’s a bunch of silver linings,’’ said Jones, who formerly coached at Hallandale. “I’m proud of them for playing hard, but mental mistakes killed us. Period. Mental mistakes killed us and at the end of the day, you can’t win games with nine discipline and mental penalties.’’