Football: St. Joe's Prep tops Ryan in Catholic semifinal

St. Joseph's Prep 29, Archbishop Ryan 6

It certainly wasn't one of the prettier wins for St. Joseph's Prep.

In Friday night's Catholic League Class AAAA semifinal playoff versus Archbishop Ryan, the Hawks struggled to sustain drives, threw two interceptions, and had a hard time getting the Raiders' offense off the field.

But the Prep persevered and, with a 29-6 victory at Benjamin L. Johnston Stadium, moved closer to their first Catholic League crown since 2005.

"We didn't play well," Hawks coach Gabe Infante acknowledged afterward. "And that's no disrespect to those guys. They really battled the whole time. But we have to clean stuff up."

After putting up 22 points in the opening 17 minutes, the Prep, 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, was mostly silent the rest of the way.

"The week was rough," Infante said. "Because of the storm, we didn't get to practice until Wednesday. But not every game is going to be perfect. The sign of a good team is when you win even though you don't play that well."

In the final next Saturday, 1 p.m. at William Tennent, the Prep will take on the survivor of Saturday afternoon's semifinal between Roman Catholic and four-time defending titlist La Salle.

In the first six minutes against Ryan, quarterback Chris Martin and tight end Dan Sherry hooked up for scores of 55 and 15 yards. Sherry has shined mostly on defense, as a strong safety, this season.

"He came up big early for us, finally got involved in the offense," Infante said. "With all the playmakers we have, he doesn't get too many chances."

In the second quarter, Kyle Battin's 29-yard field goal and Vince Moffett's 2-yard run gave the Hawks a 22-0 advantage.

Before intermission, Ryan (5-5) put together a 12-play, 55-yard scoring drive that was capped by QB Mark Ostaszewski's 1-yard keeper. It was only the second rushing score allowed by the Prep this year.

The Hawks' defense forced four turnovers. Todd Jones and Pat McCabe made interceptions; John Antiskay and Tim Rafter recovered fumbles.

Overall, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jones, a first-team all-Catholic selection at linebacker, was involved in 15 tackles, including 10 solos.

With less than five minutes to play, Prep sophomore Olamide Zaccheaus (101 yards on eight rushes) closed the scoring with a 79-yard jaunt.

For the Raiders, who netted 156 rushing yards and 125 passing, Jeremiah Agrio carried 24 times for 82 yards.

Archbishop Ryan 0 6 0 0-6
St. Joseph's Prep 12 10 0 7-29
SJP: Dan Sherry 55 pass from Chris Martin (kick blocked)
SJP: Sherry 15 pass from Martin (pass failed)
SJP: FG Kyle Battin 29
SJP: Vince Moffett 2 run (Battin kick)
AR: Mark Ostaszewski 1 run (run failed)
SJP: Olamide Zaccheaus 79 run (Battin kick)

-Rick O'Brien

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