By Larry Moko
The Cardinal Newman Cardinals scored 28 unanswered points to rally and defeat the Bishop Tonnos Titans 38-17 in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school playoff football action Friday.
Newman trailed the visitors 17-10 midway through the third quarter of the senior league semifinal. In the other semifinal, at St. Thomas More, the Knights defeated the St. Mary Crusaders, 53-7.
It was the seventh straight victory for the Cardinals, who will face the Knights Thursday at Tim Hortons Field for the HWCAA title. Game time is 4 p.m.
“Bishop Tonnos came out really fired up and ready to go,” Newman coach Anthony Macaluso said. “They’re well coached and have a lot of really good players.
“Turnovers were a bit of an issue early for us.”
The fourth-place Titans grabbed a 17-10 lead on 15-yard quarterback draw by Mark Randazzo. However, the second-place Cardinals tied the score again on a one-yard plunge by running back Calvin Kelly, set up by quarterback Daniel Eldridge’s 30-yard screen pass to Nate Cusimano.
What proved to be the winning touchdown came early in the fourth quarter. Faced with a second-down-and-25 situation, Eldridge connected with Logan McKerracher for a 53-yard pass-and-run score.
“Our OC (offensive co-ordinator) had confidence,” Macaluso said of the second-and-long call. “I said ‘let’s get some yards back.’ He said, ‘we’re going to get our yards and more.’
“It was a great throw by Daniel. He put it right on the money. Logan made an over-the-shoulder catch and there was no stopping him after he turned the jets on.”
Soon after, Kelly tore up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown run and he plowed in from one yard for his third TD of the afternoon.
Newman’s field position was also helped by two intentionally short kickoffs that were recovered by Ryan Ogilvie.
“Once we got the on-side kick the momentum shifted,” Macaluso said. “You could feel it. The confidence level just shot up. There was no stopping our offence or defence from then on.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Ben Zwolak went up and made a finger-tip reception in tight coverage of a five-yard touchdown toss from Eldridge. Tonnos replied with a six-yard carry into the end zone by Randazzo.
Max Sherwood of Newman and Tonnos’s Max Capriotti then traded 32 and 36 yard field goals to tie the score, at 10-10, before the intermission.
With their victories, More and Newman will be competing in Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The Hamilton Catholic champion is scheduled to play Halton Catholic while the HWCAA loser takes on the Halton Public representative.