By Sean Greene 1:25am, November 25, 2012
VIDEO: Highlights of Sals vs. St. Mark'sSalesianum fended off a late St. Mark's comeback to defeat their arch rivals 20-14 and advance to the DIAA State Football Championship game Saturday night.
The Sals, who defeated the Spartans 7-2 two weeks ago, looked to have things under control when defensive back Jesse June stepped in front of a Zach Whitehead pass and returned it for a touchdown to put Salesianum up 20-0 with 2:22 to go in the 3rd quarter.
Things quickly changed in the fourth quarter however, as a long pass play set up a 1 yard touchdown run by Ed Mendez to cut St. Mark's deficit to 20-7 with 6:23 left to go.
St. Mark's executed a perfect on-side kick, and then moments later Whitehead scrambled 18 yards into the end zone, so suddenly put the Spartans within a score at 20-14.
The Spartans chose to kick the ball deep, and a Mike Williams sack forced Salesianujm to punt with about 3 minutes left.
The game would be decided on the next four plays, as the Sals defense held on the first three downs, including a sack by lineback Thomas Wilmoth, and a St. Mark's hail mary type pass down the sideline fell incomplete to secure the victory for the second-seeded Sals.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Salesianum scored the only touchdown of the first half when Matt Sgro hooked up with tight end Brian ONeill on a 9 yard touchdown pass to grab a 7-0 lead.
Midway through the second, the Sals again drove down the field, highlighted by an 18-yard run by Troy Reeder where he dragged several would-be tacklers for several yards. 2 plays later Reeder went in untouched from 12 yards out to make it 14-0, setting up the drama of the final quarter-plus.
Salesianum advances to face top-seed Middletown for the Division I state championship Saturday night at Del State. The Cavs defeated the Sals 35-0 in a regular season matchup where Reeder was not available for Salesianum.
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