Despite coming in as the favorite, No. 17 Boys’ Latin had the cards stacked it against it Friday afternoon.

The Lakers faced the pressure of a do or die situation if they wanted to continue their 2010 football season and go on to compete for the MIAA B Conference championship. They also faced a talented arch-rival with nothing to lose and a willingness to pull out all of the stops.

Steady as they go, however, the Lakers waited out their opportunities and powered their way to a 28-12 win which guarantees them a share of first-place for the regular season and spot in either the B Conference championship game, or a potential semifinal playoff, depending on the outcome of Friday night games involving Archbishop Curley and Archbishop Spalding.

St. Paul’s (6-3, 5-3) took the field dressed in yellow pants and white jerseys, but slipped into yellow jerseys just prior to kickoff to the delight of a large contingent of Crusader supporters who were on hand to watch the annual Alumni Challenge Cup game between the two schools.  The Crusaders, who were eliminated from post-season contention following a tough home loss to Archbishop Spalding, last week, moved the ball well in the first half, but came up short on a pair of fourth-down gambles, both which led to Boys’ Latin touchdowns and an early 14-0 lead for the Lakers (7-2, 7-1).

In the first quarter, the Crusaders attempted a fake punt near their own 40 yard line.  Punter Nick Skudrna rolled right and appeared to have a running lane to the first down.  Instead, he lofted a pass down field which was intercepted by Taylor Stothoff, the first of two picks for Stotfhoff in the contest.  That led to a short drive, capped by an eight-yard TD run by BL’s Brandon Barnes.

Early in the second quarter, the Crusaders faced a fourth and inches at their own 35 and elected to go for it.  Taking a snap from the shotgun, Spencer Parks attempted to run for up the middle, but was stuffed for no gain, when Greg Pyke knifed through the line and pulled him down.  Boys’ Latin took over on downs and capitalized again, this time scoring on a three-yard pitch to junior Brandon Cherry.

From there the Crusaders faced an up hill battle and although they hung in the game for a while, Ritchie Schell’s Lakers did what they needed to do to close out the victory.

St. Paul’s got on the scoreboard late in the first half on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Parks to Jay Carlson, who made a beautiful diving catch in the end zone, but the Crusaders missed the extra-point kick and BL went to the half with a 14-6 lead.  The Lakers then seized command on the opening kick of the second half when Chris Rubino streaked untouched, 96 yards, for another Laker touchdown and a 21-6 lead.

“That was a beautiful kick return,” said Schell.  “The blocking was great, and that helped a lot.  We played with passion today.”

Schell added that he was proud of what he termed “a great team effort,” with big performances by quarterback Barnes, wide-receiver Michael Turner and guard Slater Wingate.  Schell also singled out the play of running back Brandon Cherry.

“We played without one of out best palyers, Jeff Chase, but Brandon stepped up,” said the veteran coach who has now guided his squad to 17 wins over the last two seasons.

Stothoff, who had a fumble recovery to go with his two interceptions agreed with his coach.

“Brandon Cherry stepped up, and Chris Rubino stepped up,” said Stothoff, who also nailed four extra-point kicks.  “Today’s win means everything.  It was basically a playoff game for us.  If we lost we were out, so it was do or die.”

Another big contributor on defense was Aaron Mack, who had seven tackles and four sacks.

“The defense practiced hard all week,” said Mack.  “Coach Schell did a great
job with our assignments.  We stepped up; we knew it was senior day, and a big day, and we took care of business.”

Barnes, who took over as the primary signal caller several weeks ago, in what is basically a wildcat formation, rushed for 103 yards in the first half and 138 for the game.  He added a second touchdown in the fourth quarter to salt away the victory.  Marco Jones, who opened many of the holes for Barnes, also added eight tackles on defense.

St. Paul’s second touchdown came in the third quarter on a five-yard run by Taylor Michel.  The Crusaders also lost junior linebacker Will Ensor who went down with an apparent injury to his left leg and had to depart via ambulance, causing a 30-minute delay to the contest in the second quarter.

Next for Boys’ Latin will be a game with either Archbishop Curley or Archbishop Spalding.  Those two are playing Friday night, with Curley at John Carroll and Spalding at St. John’s Catholic Prep.  If both win, it will create a three-way tie for first-place with no tie breakers.

If that occurs, a three-way coin flip will be held with the winner of the coin flip advancing to the league championship game, which will be moved to Saturday, Nov. 20.  The two remaining teams will play a playoff game next week for the second spot in the championship.  If only one of the two teams win, it will join Boys’ Latin in the championship game, which will then be played next Saturday at Mount St. Joseph.  One final twist would occur if both Curley and Spalding lost.  This would drop both of them into a tie for second and Curley, by virtue of its head-to-head win against Spalding, would go to the final opposite the Lakers.

Update: Archbishop Spalding defeated St. John’s Catholic Prep, 57-36, Friday night and Archbishop Curley defeated John Carroll, 21-14.  This leaves Boys’ Latin, Spalding and Curley tied for first place with no-tie break advantages for any of the three.  The MIAA will now conduct a three-way coin flip and the winner will advance to the MIAA B Conference Championship Game, now to be played on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Mount St. Joseph.  The other two teams will play a playoff game next week, at site and time to be determined, for the second spot in the championship game.

To view videos, click on the Related Videos link above.  The final two videos feature the entire game with play-by-play from Booker Corrigan.

No. 19 Boys’ Latin 28, St. Paul’s 12
St. Paul’s066012
Boys’ Latin0147728
2nd Q
BL-Cherry 3 run (Stothoff kick)
BL-Barnes 8 run (Stothoff kick)
SP-Carlson 34 pass from Parks (kick failed)
3rd Q
BL-Rubino 96 kickoff return (Stothoff kick)
SP-Michael 3 run (pass failed)
4th Q
BL-Barnes 11 run (Stothoff kick)