Last year, a young Iona Prep team lost at Chaminade on a last-second field goal. The same teams appeared headed for a less dramatic outcome under a very different set of circumstances Saturday night.
The veteran Gaels had appeared to claim favorite status in the CHSFL with last week's win over three-time defending champ St. Anthony's. They also played under the lights for the first time in school history, but those realities and a 12-point fourth quarter lead quickly evaporated. Chaminade erased the deficit and stunned the top-ranked team in The Journal News' Class AA poll 34-31 on Iona Prep's home field.
"Chaminade's a real good team. They're real physical," Gaels senior Chris Cooper said. "If we lay down like we did, you'll see the end result: We're going to get punched in the mouth. I was hoping we wouldn't get complacent, but we did."
With its soaring confidence, Iona Prep (2-1) may have started too fast. The Gaels led 7-0 after the second play from scrimmage when Michael Barbuto recovered a fumble and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Quarterback Mario Biaggi (23 for 32, 199 yards) and running back Shaquille Townsend (23 carries, 174 yards) spurred the offense to 430 yards, but Iona Prep began to crack on special teams. For the second straight week, the Gaels allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown (a 79-yarder by Robert Speranza Jr.) and their coverage teams were gouged on kick returns.
Townsend's third-quarter touchdown and Christian Kapp's 20-yard field goal early in the fourth built a 31-19 lead. Chaminade (3-0) responded with a 58-yard touchdown drive. Then,
Chaminade's Thomas Zenker took a reverse 15 yards for the go-ahead score with 3:47 remaining.