EVERETT — St. John’s Prep had plenty of scoring chances, perhaps more than Everett coach John DiBiaso would have liked.
But the Eagles failed to take advantage as Everett (3-0) capitalized on St. John’s Prep mistakes to take a 19-7 victory in front of a jam-packed crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“I thought our defense made some adjustments at halftime, and once we took away the run, we kind of forced [St. John’s Prep] to do what they didn’t want to do,” said DiBiaso. “I thought that was the difference.”
Everett’s defense bottled up the Eagles’ offense, holding them to fewer than 50 yards in the second half.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, St. John’s Prep (2-1) defensive back Michael Fawehinmi intercepted Everett quarterback Gilly DeSouza and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown and a 13-12 Prep lead.
But the Eagles were called for blocking below the waist, the touchdown was negated, and the ball was marked at the 25-yard line.
St. John’s Prep couldn’t score, and Omar Graciano sacked quarterback Jack Sharrio as the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
“That’s a turnaround right there — a huge play,” said St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “But in great field position, you still have to get some points out of that and we didn’t.”
After the teams traded possessions, Everett failed to pick up a first down on third and 4 and punted.
DeSouza punted from the 34-yard line and buried the Eagles at their 4-yard line with 2:22 to play.
“I knew it would be a long drive [for the Eagles] if I could get a nice coffin punt,” DeSouza said. “I tried to put it to the right and it rolled beautifully.”
After two runs from Jonathan Thomas (18 carries, 94 yards), Sharrio threw two incompletions and Everett took over on downs.
Senior Jalen Felix (15 carries, 93 yards) scored from 8 yards to ice the victory.
DeSouza set up the go-ahead touchdown by launching a 41-yard yard pass to Jakarrie Washington on third and 8.
The play brought the Tide to the Eagles’ 18-yard line, and Kenny Calaj capped the drive with a 9-yard run for a 12-7 lead.
“I thought [DeSouza] made a big pass to Jakarrie, that was the turning point of the game,” DiBiaso said. “He can do everything.”
Everett scored on its first possession, a 1-yard run by Washington that capped a 13-play, 61-yard drive.
The Prep countered, as Sharrio hit running back Alex Moore on a screen for a 9-yard score and the Eagles took a 7-6 lead.
Thomas nearly scored on his first carry of the game as he broke for a 16-yard run, but he stumbled at the Everett 30-yard line with an open field ahead of him.
But the turning point came at the end of the first half, as St. John’s Prep worked its way to the 1-yard line.
As Sharrio went to spike the ball, the Eagles were called for a false start.
Because of the 10-second run-off rule, which would’ve ended the half after the penalty, O’Leary was forced to burn his last timeout and elected to go for a touchdown, rather than the chip-shot field goal.
Sharrio scrambled and lofted the ball into the end zone, and Everett defensive back Lubern Figaro intercepted it.
“That was a big turning point,” said DiBiaso, whose team faces another challenge in Barnstable next week. “They came away with no points, and [Figaro] came away with a big interception.”
For video highlights check out the The Huddle this Tuesday at Boston.com/schools