Cadets defeat Jesuits on last play of game

Jordan Vazzano threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Lars Pedersen as time ran off the clock, to give the St. Joseph High football team a 36-34 victory over Fairfield Prep before a packed house at Alumni Field on Friday night.

The Cadets took possession with 58.6 seconds remaining, after Prep quarterback Colton Smith capped the Jesuits’ come back from a 30-14 deficit drive with a 10-yard keeper.

Vazzano, who completed 29-of-45 passes for 379 yards and five scores, brought St. Joseph down field from its 34-yard line with passes to Pedersen for 12 yards, Shane Miller for five and Darren Jackson for eight.

“Lars was one-on-one down the sideline, and the middle was crowded,” said Vazzano, who after the play was chased through the end zone and back to midfield by the Cadet bench and St. Joseph students. “My line did a great job giving me the time I needed.”

Pedersen said, “They were all vertical routes, at the time there was not much more we could do. I’ve never seen a more perfectly thrown pass.”

Miller, who caught three passes for touchdowns and ran for another, said, “I ran a seam (pattern) and when the ball was in the air it was like time stood still. Lars made a great play.”

Cadet coach Joe Della Vecchia said, “I’ve never experienced anything quite like this in my life. We wanted to go to Lars the play before. This time he pressed him (the defensive back) and got the separation. Someone was with us (tonight).”

The Cadets led 6-0 on a 15-yarder from Vazzano to Rooney on their first possession.

The Jesuits took a 7-6 lead on Andrew Vegliante’s five-yard run and Sean Morrison’s PAT with 4:38 remaining in the first half.

St. Joseph responded with a quick 65-yard, six-play drive that saw Miller catch an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:37 left in the second quarter.

The Cadets’ conversion pass failed.

Kevin Bortnick’s big hit forced a Joe Ganim fumble and Nick Colucci recovered the ball on the Prep 39-yard line.

On fourth-and-three from the 15, Vazzano made a great back shoulder throw to Pedersen, who made a tumbling catch, and St. Joseph took an 18-7 lead into the break.

Vazzano found Miller in stride at midfield and the senior went the distance for a 78-yard touchdown on St. Joseph’s first series of the third period.

Again, conversion points (three kicks, a pair of two-point tries) eluded the Cadets.

Prep countered with a 64-yard drive with Anthony Johnson in at quarterback for Smith, who was sidelined with severe leg cramps.

Nick Crowle ran for 56 yards on four carries in the march, before Johnson connected with John DeliSanti for an 18-yard score.

Morrison’s PAT made it 24-14 with 4:33 on the clock in the third quarter.

Four plays later it was 30-14, as Miller went wide left on a sweep, cut inside a block by Mufasa Abdul-Basir, and cut across the grain for a 52-yard touchdown.

Ganim’s 50-yard run keyed Prep’s next drive, which culminated with Crowle diving in from a yard out with 9:50 left in the game.

St. Joseph moved the chains twice, but Prep’s Connor Roche recovered a fumble at the Jesuits’ 47-yard line to set up their go-ahead drive.