WESTWOOOD - While it is true that BC High's visit to Xaverian would not decide who will emerge as Catholic Conference champion, it was almost certain to decide who would not.
Tyler Horan made sure his Eagles kept the inside track in one of the state's toughest conferences, accumulating 311 all-purpose yards in BC High's 28-21 victory over the Hawks yesterday.
"I'm exhausted," said Horan after carrying the ball 19 times in the second half alone, eight of which came on the winning drive.
"I just had to dig down deep. The fourth quarter . . . tie game, you gotta break that."
Horan ran for 76 of his team's 80 yards on the winning drive, finishing with an 11-yard scoring gallop with 1:30 to play that broke a 21-21 tie for the third-ranked Eagles.
"He's such a great player," boasted BC High coach Jon Bartlett. "We knew giving him the ball more times what he's capable of doing."
Quarterback Alex Phelan (19 of 33, 188 yards) led No. 15 Xaverian (5-4, 1-1) to BC High's 6 on its final drive. On fourth and 5 from the 6 with 31 seconds left, Phelan was forced to scramble out of the pocket. He tried to tightrope the left sideline to the first-down marker, but was forced out of bounds at the 2.
As the first half was coming to a close, BC High (7-1, 2-0) was looking up at the home team. After a Hawk touchdown, Xaverian kicked off to Horan, who capped off a productive first half (four carries, 70 yards) with an 82-yard return down the sideline, sending the Eagles into the locker room down, 21-14, but believing a win was in reach.
"Everybody was in the locker room booming," said Horan. "It gave us the swagger to come out in the second half."
That swagger was apparent back on the field. On the subsequent kickoff, Joseph Colton took the return across midfield, but Niall Murphy, whose earlier fumble led to a Xaverian touchdown, knocked the ball out of his arms and the Eagles recovered. During the next 8 1/2 minutes, Horan converted four third-down conversions, including a 50-yard run on third and 21. On fourth and goal from the 3, Kyle Ewanouski took a toss right into the end zone, keyed by a Horan block. The touchdown tied the game at 21.
After two of the top Division 1 defenses battled to a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles drew first blood on the first play of the second. On third down from the 2, quarterback Bill Kiley snuck under center for the score, capping a 98-yard drive that featured 12 plays, three third-down conversions, and a 41-yard yard run by Horan.
Xaverian answered with its first of three consecutive touchdown drives. The Hawks drove 82 yards, culminating in the last of Phelan's four completions on the drive, an 18-yard pass on third and 10 to Anthony Franciosi.
The ensuing kickoff was returned by Murphy to BC High's 40, where the ball was fumbled and scooped up by Xaverian's Eric Derba. A 23-yard pass from Phelan to captain Sparky Crossen got the Hawks into the red zone, and running back Anthony Knight ran in a 1-yard touchdown to give Xaverian the lead.
After forcing a punt, the Hawks were looking at another short field. Facing third and goal from the 3 with less than 30 seconds left, Phelan fired a bullet to Crossen, who made a nifty catch in the end zone. Little did the Hawks know that Brennan Sweeney's third extra point would end their scoring.