Following up a season like St. Luke’s football had in 2012, which ended with an 8-1 record and a victory in the Dan Rorke Bowl, is always a difficult task, but the Storm took a large step towards another strong season with a 13-0 victory at home over Cardinal Spellman (Bronx, NY) on Saturday.
The Storm (1-0) started the game on offense, and wasted little time taking the lead over the Pilots (0-1). Juniors Jerry Boggs and Kyle Andersen opened the drive with strong runs, including a 17 yard gain by Boggs, setting up the passing game for first year starting quarterback, junior Alex Libman. On a third-and-nine from the Cardinal Spellman 24 yard line, Libman lofted a beautiful pass to the end zone which was hauled in by his favorite target, senior wide receiver Bryan Latorraca, to open the scoring for the Storm. Kicker Ben Rappaport, a junior, connected on the extra point to make the score 7-0.
After a stalled Pilots drive, the Storm offense took over at its own 30, and looked like they might blow the game open early. Libman connected with Latoracca on a 29-yard pass, and later fired one to the end zone, once again intended for the senior receiver, who drew a pass interference call, giving St. Luke’s great field position. The Pilots defense tightened up towards the end zone and stopped St. Luke’s on the ensuing set of downs at their own nine yard line. The Storm attempted to tack on three points, but Rappaport’s kick ricocheted off of the cross bar.
The two teams traded scoreless drives throughout the second quarter, and the Storm went into halftime clinging to its one touchdown lead.
The Pilots received the ball in the second half, and for a while looked like they may never surrender it. The team’s run-oriented offense had little issue picking up first down after first down against the Storm defense, and ate up the first 9:56 off of the clock on its opening drive. The Storm defense held strong in its own half of the field, however, and after nearly ten minutes of play, stuffed Pilots quarterback Edwin Webber on a fourth-and-two quarterback keeper.
The two squads traded blows in the fourth quarter, with St. Luke’s still clinging to it’s narrow lead, but the Pilots blinked first, allowing St. Luke’s to capitalize on a special teams blunder. A Rappaport punt deflected off of the Pilots’ punt returner Kenny Johnson's facemask, and was quickly recovered by Latorraca. Shortly thereafter, Libman connected with Boggs on a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone on a play very similar to the one that Latorraca scored on earlier. Rappaport was unable to score the extra point, but the Storm extended the lead to 13-0, a score that would hold.
Cardinal Spellman took the following kickoff to their own 33, but the offense was unable to crack a stout Storm defense, led by senior Robert Wood, who lived in the Pilots backfield on Saturday. Wood recorded a tackle-for-loss and a sack on the Pilots’ final drive, handing the ball back to Libman and the offense, who picked up two first downs and ran down the clock to end the game.
St. Luke’s has a bye week this week, and hosts Hopkins School at 3 pm on Saturday, September 21.