After both Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep posted impressive wins over North Jersey powers last week, the Southeastern Pennsylvania heavyweights squared off Friday night.
And the Prep, with another impressive showing on defense, maintained its top-dog status in the local rankings and opened Catholic League Red Division action with a convincing 27-7 triumph at Widener’s Quick Stadium.
In beating the Vikings for the second straight season, the Hawks only allowed a first-quarter score.
The Prep, ranked No. 1 in the area, improved to 3-0. No. 3 Wood, which was riding high after knocking off mighty Bergen Catholic, slipped to 2-2.
The Hawks’ defensive charge was led by linemen Ryan Bryce, Paul Hess, Jake Feehery and Rayshad Wallace, and linebackers Phil O’Connor, Bradley Cobaugh, and Zach Snider.
Quarterback Marquez McCray and halfback Marques Mason sparked the Prep offense. McCray converted 9 of 15 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, while Mason carried 19 times for 80 yards and a pair of scores.
Mason’s second tally of the night, a 2-yard run with just over a minute to play, finished the scoring for the defending PIAA Class 6A state champions.
Midway through the second quarter, Mason scored from the 7 to put the Hawks ahead, 17-7. McCray completed passes for 18, 28, and 7 yards in the series.
In the first quarter, after a poor punt gave Prep the ball at the Wood 33-yard line, McCray immediately hooked up with wideout Brandon Sanders, a Bucknell recruit, on to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead.
The Vikings responded with a 7-play, 80-yard drive and evened things on Nasir Peoples’ 21-yard, right-side dart. Two plays earlier, the Virginia Tech recruit — who carried 23 times for 130 yards — broke free for a 36-yard gain.
Late in the opening frame, Anthony Tigano, who earlier had missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, converted a 24-yarder to make it 10-7.
An apparent go-ahead score by Wood early in the second, on a 30-yard pass from Jack Colyar to Adrian Lambert, was wiped out by a penalty.
McCray completed 7 of 10 passes for 112 yards in the first half. Mason and fellow halfback Kolbe Burrell combined for 72 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
The Prep improved its overall advantage in the head-to-head series to 7-2.
These teams have a long tradition of spirited games. Between them, the Hawks and Vikings have captured seven PIAA state championships since 2011.
The Prep, which was ranked No. 13 in the country in USA Today’s most recent Super 25, gained state-wide glory in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Wood took top honors in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Last season, in a contest televised by ESPNU, the Hawks pulled away from the Vikings with three fourth-quarter scores and easily triumphed, 43-24, at Claude Lodge Field in Warminster.
McCray played a key role in that victory. He had a 12-yard scoring reception on a trick play, fired a 36-yard TD pass, and found pay dirt on a 1-yard keeper.
In October 2013, when the Prep and Wood battled in a Catholic League cross-division game, the Prep rallied for a 31-21 victory. The Hawks also won, 20-13, in 2012. The Vikings prevailed in 2011 (42-7) and 2010 (21-20).
Wood and the Prep will take on Roman Catholic (0-3, 0-0) and Archbishop Carroll (2-2, 0-1), respectively, in Red Division action next weekend.
St. Joseph’s Prep 13 12 12 17 – 54
Archbishop Wood 18 20 20 24 – 82 MT: Derrick Jones 17, Aziz Parker 14, Shakwel Vincent 3, Ricky Jones 13, Nathan Conyer 2, Darryl Phillips 2, Elijahlee Freeman 1, Troy Baynum 2.
C: Brad Hawkins 7, Corey Greer 27, John Evans 6, Myles Thompson 18, Jamal Holloway 14, Deaquan Williams 5, Ethan Tarte 5.