When it finally ended, Danny Tarsitano pointed to the sky.
Josh Zamot hugged his father.
And Holy Spirit coach A.J. Russo made it short and sweet to his players.
“Guys, see you Monday,” Russo said in a statement that sent the Spartans racing to the sideline to continue their wild celebration with schoolmates and family members.
What could the coach say? His team’s dramatic comeback left him speechless.
Thanks to a remarkable rally and a huge defensive stand, Holy Spirit stunned Delsea, 43-35, in overtime Friday in an instant classic of a West Jersey Football League cross-over clash of Top 15 teams.
“This means everything,” said Zamot, who was spectacular both as a passer and runner before a huge crowd at Ed Byrnes Stadium. ‘I’ll remember this game a long time. Forever.”
Zamot passed for four touchdowns and scored the winning touchdown on a two-yard run on a fourth-down play in overtime for Holy Spirit (3-1), the No. 13 team in the Inqurier Top 25.
Holy Spirit rallied from a 35-21 deficit in the final five minutes of regulation.
The Spartans scored the game’s final 22 points, with Zamot, Tarsitano and fellow senior Lee Dawson making several big plays and the home team’s defense rising up after three-plus quarters of struggles to stop the visiting Crusaders.
“It really was the defense,” said Tarsitano, who caught the two-point conversion pass from Zamot with 0:25 on the clock to tie the score at 35-35 in regulation.
Tarsitano also caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Zamot to cut Delsea’s lead to 35-27 with 4:23 left in regulation.
“We knew we could come back,” Tarsitano said. “The defense got some stops, and Josh would come in the huddle and say, ‘We’re going to the end zone We’re going to score.”
Senior quarterback Mason Maxwell scored his second touchdown on a one-yard sneak to give Delsea (1-3), the No. 9 team in the rankings, a 35-21 lead with 8:41 left
At that point, Delsea had scored on each of its last five possessions, using strong running by Maxwell as well as sophomore fullback Jake Nwosu and junior halfback Aidan Borguet.
Zamot led Holy Spirit down the field, hitting Isaiah Gerena with a 13-yard pass on 4th-and-12, scrambling for 10 on 3rd-and-8 and completing the drive with a touchdown pass to Tarsitano.
That cut the lead to 35-27.
An illegal motion penalty, a false start and some inspired Holy Spirit defense forced Delsea to punt.
Taking over at the 44 with 3:09 on the clock, the Spartans drove behind hard running by sophomore Elijah Gray and playmaking by Zamot. With 0:25 left, Zamot fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to Dawson in the right corner of the end zone.
That made it 35-33.
The Spartans still needed two.
Zamot rolled right and fired to Tarsitano, who made the catch before collapsing with a cramp.
In overtime, Holy Spirit got a first down on a face mask penalty and reached the 2 on Zamot’s pass to Alvaro Lora. On fourth down, Zamot rolled right and knifed into the end zone.
“I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Zamot said. “The offensive line, the receivers, the running backs, we all played a part.”
Zamot hit Ahmad Brown for the two-point conversion to make to 43-35 and force Delsea to score eight to tie.
But the Crusaders weren’t able to get a first down, as Holy Spirit’s defense rose up and made a big stop on fourth-and-5 at the 20.
“I was thanking everybody,” Tarsitano said of his gesture at the heavens. “This wins means so much.”
Delsea 6 10 11 8 0 – 35
Holy Spirit 7 6 8 14 8 – 43
D: Jake Nwosu 1 run (kick fail)
HS: Dan Tarsitano 16 pass from Josh Zamot (Patrick Newman kick)
D: Mason Maxwell 10 run (Larry Holdcraft kick)
HS: Elijah Gray 2 run (kick fail)
D: Holdcraft 18 FG
D: Holdcraft 20 FG
HS: Alvaro Lora 18 pass from Zamot (Gray run)
D: Aidan Boguet 60 run (Nwosu run)
D: Maxwell 1 run (Borguet pass from Maxwell)
HS: Tarsitano 2 pass from Zamot (kick fail)
HS: Lee Dawson 16 pass from Zamot (Tarsitano pass from Zamot).
HS: Zamot 2 run (Ahmad Brown pass from Zamot)