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Jackson keeps promise to Cross seniors in win over SFP

TimesLedger Newspapers

Junior Brandon Jackson delivered on his promise to Juwan Wilson and the Holy Cross seniors. He had told the senior linebacker that he would make sure the Knights’ season and the seniors’ careers ended on a good note in the annual Battle of the Boulevard clash with St. Francis Prep.

“He did more than that,” Wilson said.

Jackson turned in the best performance of his career in a 19-0 football win over the rival Terriers Friday afternoon at the Bayside Athletic Complex. He had two interceptions, including one returned 75 yards for a touchdown. Jackson also brought back a punt of 52 yards to the end zone for the Knights’ first points of the game and his first two touchdowns of the seasons.

“I told him the other day, ‘I said, “Jackson, nobody cares about the season. They don’t remember anything, but if you score against Prep, you will always be etched in my mind,”’” Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh said.

Added Jackson, “Last game of the season I needed a score.”

He helped give Holy Cross (5-5) its fourth straight win over SFP and created a bittersweet feeling following a CHSFL Class AA quarterfinal loss to Chaminade the week earlier. The game, originally scheduled for the first time on Thanksgiving, was going to be cancelled if both squads won in the playoffs because of the effect Hurricane Sandy had on the schedule.

“We didn’t want to lose last week, but when you find out you have your rivals it makes you want to come back on play,” said Wilson, who forced a fumble by stripping Joey Troina.

Jackson fed that emotion early taking the Terriers’ (7-3) first punt back for a score. The Knights’ offense ran just three plays in the first quarter, but led 13-0 following his interception return, one of four turnovers forced by Cross, including a fumble recoveries by Diwani Wiles-Singletary and Andrian Penalo. Michael Loprete added a 21-yard touchdown pass to Anthony DiPasquale to up the Knights’ lead to 19-0 at the half.

The Holy Cross defense shut out the Terriers’ run-heavy offense that averaged 36.4 points per game on their way to a CHSFL Class AA-A regular season title. Running back Justin Guerre said the last two weeks gave he and his teammates a taste of the AAA and the work they need to get to that level.

Quarterback Jack Hurley had 91 yards passing and Guerre had 10 carries for 86 yards. The offense, which scored 41 points against Kellenberg, was stopped four times in the read-zone and twice inside the 10-yard line on fourth down with kicker George Thomatos, a soccer player, choosing not to play the game.

“It’s a killer,” Guerre said. “We wish we had those back.”

The Knights get to hold on to the memory of beating Prep for another year and Jackson can say he made good on what he promised his teammates. He knows no matter how your season goes, what you do in the Battle of the Boulevard takes on special meaning.

“Alumni come back and they ask did you win the Prep game and what did you do to contribute to the win,” Jackson said. “I’m happy to say I contributed to my team winning the Prep game.”

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