St. Thomas Aquinas got one big play, Don Bosco Prep got the rest.
The New Jersey power made it two wins in three years over the Raiders, downing St. Thomas Aquinas 24-7 on Saturday afternoon at historic Michie Stadium on the campus at West Point.
“We hoped we could just keep it close going into the fourth quarter, which we could not do,” Raiders coach Rocco Casullo said. “We knew [Don Bosco] was a very physical team, a much better team than in 2012, well-coached in every phase of the game, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The Raiders were held to 200 yards of total offense by the speedy Ironmen defense — 87 of those yards came on one play when Raiders quarterback Jake Rizzo connected on a quick slant to junior Sam Bruce, who broke one tackle and outraced the Don Bosco defense.
That made the score 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Lawrence Stephens ran back the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for the Ironmen to the Raiders’ 22. The Raiders defense forced a field-goal attempt that was converted by Leo Vagias.
The Ironmen, who edged St. Thomas Aquinas 20-10 in 2012, added to their lead on a big play in the third quarter, when quarterback Wes McKoy connected on a 59-yard pass to RJ Trimble-Edwards, who had gotten behind the Raiders secondary.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1-1) followed with its best drive of the second half, but a third-down pass by Rizzo went off the hands of Bruce. And on fourth down, Rizzo was intercepted by Don Bosco defensive end William Mack III.
“We were going punch for punch with turnovers in the first half, but you can’t turn the ball over and win games, not against these types of opponents,” Casullo said. “We had an opportunity there to make it 17-14, we had a great call on, a screen, and that changes the whole perspective of the game. But hats off to Don Bosco, those kids played really hard.”
The game was played in a steady rain, which might have led to the turnover count. Each team had two, including one on the Raiders’ first offensive play when Rizzo’s backwards pass was ruled a lateral and recovered by Don Bosco.
With a 10-point lead, Don Bosco played very conservatively down the stretch, running the ball on its last 20 plays. Junior tailback Malik Bakker scored on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Nick Bosa was a factor for the Raiders, getting three of his team’s five sacks.
“You know what? I am very proud of my defense,” Casullo said. “They were out there a long time and they kept playing hard. Nick kept saying ‘Let’s go, we will make a play on defense.’ All those guys on defense, I am proud of them. They never quit.”