The Gaels will get their rematch.
Following a three-week layoff resulting from Superstorm Sandy, second-seeded Iona Prep marched past seventh-seeded Xaverian 41-20 in the CHSFL AAA Division quarterfinals Sunday at Iona Prep.
The Gaels will host the lone team that they lost to this year -- No. 3 Chaminade -- Sunday at 1 p.m. in the semifinals.
Senior wide receiver Chris Cooper caught eight passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns, and senior running back Shaquille Townsend scored twice as the Gaels used their big-play threats early and often. With 4:43 left in the first quarter, senior quarterback Mario Biaggi threw a 24-yard strike down the middle to Cooper for the game's first score.
"It was a good read by Mario," Cooper said. "We repped that play in practice constantly, and when the opportunity came around, we just handed it to them. We had an extra three weeks to practice, and it gave us a big advantage. That's how we were able to put up those points."
Following the touchdown, senior defensive tackle Malik Joseph created havoc for Xaverian's offense, which was forced to punt. On the Gaels' subsequent possession, Biaggi used his feet to get the ball to Xaverian's 5-yard line, setting up Townsend's first score of the day.
With 2:38 left in the second quarter, Xaverian's Laray Smith broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run which, following the extra point, made it 14-7 Iona Prep. But Biaggi's 24-yard run and 41-yard touchdown pass to Cooper comprised a lightning fast two-play, 23-second drive that pushed the lead back up to 14 before halftime.
"We had three weeks to prepare, so we made sure that when we came into this game, we knew where the defense was, we knew what to expect, and we reacted to their defense," said Biaggi, who passed for 200 yards and ran for another 85.
Townsend ran 52 yards for a touchdown 30 seconds into the second half. Following a 30-yard catch by Townsend, Biaggi threw a 5-yard pass to Cooper with 5:31 to play in the third quarter. Minutes later, junior quarterback Nicholas Kryza connected with Cooper for a 59-yard touchdown reception.
Iona Prep allowed just seven points through the first three quarters. Senior outside-linebacker Aaaqil Sheppard had three sacks.
"Aaaqil Sheppard really got pressure on the quarterback," Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo said. "Kyle Bonci was all over the field. Those two guys I thought really played well."
Iona Prep will look to avenge its 34-31 week 3 loss to Chaminade.
"I want to take another shot at Chaminade," Biaggi said.