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Holy Cross stumbles in win

Jordan Francklin of Holy Cross rushes the ball up field during the game against Archbishop Stepinac in Bayside. Photo by Ken Maldonado
TimesLedger Newspapers

A mental lapse late in the fourth quarter nearly wiped out an impressive showing by Malachi Hoskins, but the defensive end found redemption to earn Holy Cross the win.

Hoskins, who scored a defensive touchdown and blocked a punt, committed a 15-yard personal foul late in the fourth quarter that gave Archbishop Stepinac the ball back. He made up for it on the ensuing drive when he stripped quarterback Daniel Hoffer. His teammate Stefan Harrington recovered the ball to seal a 16-14 Holy Cross win in a Catholic High School Football League Class AAA game at the Bayside Athletic Complex Sunday afternoon.

“Games come down to the end, every game,” Hoskins said while catching his breath. “You know someone has to come and step up to make the play.”

Hoskins just thought he was making a play on a punt late in the fourth, but he ended up hitting Stepinac’s Christian Lopez before he caught the ball. Stepinac regained possession on the penalty and moved the ball down to the Holy Cross 30-yard line with under a minute to play.

In a third-and-11 situation, Hoskins had his chance to erase his mistake by forcing a fumble. Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh expected Hoskins to make up for his mistake and earn the Knights a bounce-back win after a lopsided loss to St. Anthony’s last week.

“That’s what great players are supposed to do,” Pugh said. “He made up for it quite a bit.”

Holy Cross (3-1, 2-1) led 16-14 thanks to a safety late in the third quarter. With the score tied, Stepinac (1-3, 1-2) punted from their own 16-yard line. The snap flew over punter Matthew Schumaker’s head and he ended up kicking it out of the end zone to give Holy Cross two points. That was Stepinac’s third safety off a punt this season.

The Crusaders’ miscues turned into Holy Cross points throughout the game. Cross’ first score came off a botched handoff down inside their own 5-yard line. Hoskins fell on top of it in the end zone to give his team a 7-0 lead with 7:35 to play in the first quarter.

After the score, Stepinac fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Cross excellent field position. Jordan Francklin would run the ball in from 3 yards out, giving Cross a 14-0 lead with 3:01 left in the first. Stepinac’s scores came on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Hoffer to Malcolm Major, who then later added a 4-yard scamper to tie the game.

“We did everything possible to give that game away,” Stepinac Coach Mike O’Donnell said.

Seeing his own team capitalize off of the opposition’s mistakes, Hoskins did everything in his power so his own mishap did not become a springboard for Stepinac.

“I got the opportunity and made the best of it,” Hoskins said.

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