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Strong second half lifts JFK to victory

August 25, 2012
By JOE CATULLO Jr. - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

NORTH LIMA - Facing fourth down and less than a yard in the final quarter, South Range attempted to stay in the game by going for it deep in John F. Kennedy's territory.

The Raiders called for a quarterback sneak with Ross Stoffer but was immediately stuffed behind the line.

"That turned the momentum around, and after that we just played awesome," John F. Kennedy's Alec Rossi said. "Our defense brought it together, and they didn't get much after that."

Later on, Eagles' quarterback Dominic Naples ran to the left, crossed over to the middle of the field and went back right through defenders 38 yards into the end zone. The Eagles then controlled the game and won 34-25 on Friday night.

Naples said there was not one play or possession that was the most important factor. It was something deeper inside each player.

"Heart," he said.

Naples finished with 108 passing yards, 104 rushing and two touchdowns (both in the second half).

"We expect that from him," JFK coach Dave Pappada said. "He plays offense and defense, obviously, and he's a good one for us. He led by example."

The Eagles started slow with a 10-point first half while the Raiders scored 19, including a 47-second touchdown drive late in the second quarter to give them the two-possession lead. David McCabe ran for a 25-yard touchdown on a draw play in shotgun formation.

The Eagles did not head to the locker room at halftime but rather sat next to the visitor's bleachers when Naples gave his team a much-needed speech.

"I just went in the middle, and I just said 'guys. It's who wants it more,'" Naples said.

The speech propelled JFK midway in the third quarter, scoring two quick touchdowns that gave them a five-point lead.

Robert Seger caught fire on the first touchdown drive. He hauled in a 39-yard pass from Naples, and then caught a 27-yard touchdown bullet two plays later.

When the Eagles got the ball back, Rossi ran a 59-yard touchdown run on the first play. Rossi led all rushers with 139 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.

"I think our kids relaxed a little bit at halftime, and then all of a sudden they came out and scored, and quickly got another score," Raider coach Dan Yeagley said.

The Raiders answered with 1:49 remaining in the third when Stoffer tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jake Pfeifer. South Range was one yard short on the two-point attempt but held a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Eagles took back the lead when Erick Bofenkamp nailed a 37-yard field goal, his second of the game, with 10:03 left on the clock. Bofenkamp also made four extra points during the game.

"He's gotten so much better since his freshman year," Naples said. "He's such a reliable target. If we get in the 30, we know we're coming out with points, and that's critical in a game like this."

The Raiders began the next drive with Billy Goodall's 55-yard kickoff return but were then stopped on fourth down before Naples razzle-dazzled 38 yards.

"They executed very well," Yeagley said. "We didn't tackle very well, and they made some things happen. We can't get the breaks to a good JFK team because all of a sudden they're going to put points on the board."

Pappada said the Eagles settled in after their slow start.

"We're kind of a veteran team, and we settle down after the halftime," Pappada said. "We knew that we got people that can make it up in a hurry. We just collected our thoughts a little bit and played a lot better in the second half."

The Eagles will open their season at home on Friday against LaBrae while South Range travels to Memorial on the same day.



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