2023 NJSIAA Non-Public A Semifinal - Bergen Catholic vs. Donovan Catholic
Photo Credit: John Hund

Bergen Catholic eyes three-peat after dispatching of Donovan Catholic in Non-Public A Semifinals

The Bergen Catholic Crusaders (10-1) faced the Donovan Catholic Griffins (9-3) in the non-public A semifinals at Jack McGovern Field (Bergen Catholic High School) in Oradell, New Jersey.

Bergen Catholic rolled past Paul VI in the quarterfinals the previous week. Meanwhile, Donovan Catholic slipped by St. Augustine 7–6.

Donovan Catholic put up the game's first points on a defensive play. Bergen Catholic was backed up deep in their end when quarterback Dominic Campanile tossed a pass that resulted in a backward pass. Safety Najee Morgan scooped up the ball and glided into the end zone for the score with seven minutes left in the first quarter.

The Crusaders caught a significant break with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter as the Griffins attempted a fake punt in their territory. Bergen Catholic's Christian Gonzalez made a solid tackle before a Donovan Catholic player reached the first down marker.

Working with a short field, Campanile completed a 26-yard pass to tight end John Morris, advancing the ball down to the Griffins' 22-yard line. A pass interference call assessed against Donovan Catholic pushed the ball a little bit further.

Bergen Catholic running back Kaj Sanders got the next three carries, including a 12-yard run that set up a first and goal. Sanders took a handoff and plowed straight ahead into the end zone for the four-yard touchdown that tied the game up at 7-7 with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Sanders electrified the home crowd in the second quarter, taking a handoff and then sprinting 55 yards to the house for the score that put the Crusaders up 14-7.

Bergen Catholic quickly extended their advantage to 21-7 in seconds. Griffin's quarterback, Todd Lambertson, attempted a pass into the flat, but Crusaders defensive back Naiim Parrish stepped in front and made the interception. Parrish had nothing but clear daylight as he strode into the end zone for the 26-yard score with 6:20 remaining in the second.

The Crusaders came out blazing in the second half with Campanile completing a pass to wide receiver Quincy Porter. Porter shook off some defensive players with his brute strength and sprinted 60 yards to the end zone, expanding the margin to 28-7 with eight and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

Late in the third, Kaj Sanders brought the home fans out of the bleachers by taking a handoff and motoring his way 78 yards to paydirt, which widened the Bergen Catholic lead to 35-7.

Campanile capped off an impressive throwing day by spinning around after rolling out of the pocket and firing a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Luca Cuttita that put a stamp on the Crusaders' dominating 42-13 victory.

The Crusaders advanced to their third straight Non-Public A Final, where they will battle the Delbarton Green Wave (10-1) on Tuesday, November 28th, at MetLife Stadium, with kick-off set for 8 p.m. Delbarton knocked off Seton Hall Prep in the semifinals, 38-23.

For more scenes from the NJSIAA Non-Public A semifinal game between Bergen Catholic and Donovan Catholic, check out more of John Hund’s photos from the game.

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