Running back Laray Smith’s three first-half touchdowns led the Xaverian Clippers to a 53–18 rout of the Holy Trinity Titans on Friday night at Aviator Sports Complex.
Smith finished with 187 yards on just eight carries as part of a Xaverian (2–5) offense that put up 420 yards on the night. It was his first dominant performance after missing the first two and a half games of the season with a sprained ankle.
“I was just having fun again like last year,” a jubilant Smith said after the game. “I wanted to show people that I’m here.”
He made his presence known early, breaking a 65-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game and followed that with a 75-yard touchdown run on the next possession. That put Xaverian well on its way to ending a four-game losing streak in a game that was reminiscent of last season’s run to the league finals.
“I’ve believed the last few weeks that all our team needed to do was connect both sides of the football,” Xaverian head coach Joe DeSiena said. “I told the guys that if we get a little momentum in our favor, we’ll start playing with confidence.”
Senior quarterback Zach Kearney complemented Smith’s performance, completing six of nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns to Peter Tuohy. Kearney put an exclamation point on the victory when, while playing defense, he scooped up a fumble and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He credited Smith’s day for giving him room to work.
“[Smith] draws a lot of attention off of me and lets me drop back in the pocket,” Kearney said. “We have a lot of good receivers and they made a lot of good catches today.”
Backup quarterback Gregory McGoldrick also had a strong game when he saw playing time, completing all four of his passes for 121 total yards. Nearly half of those yards came on a 60-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter to senior Jonathan Badyna.
Holy Trinity (3–4, 2–4) relied on the passing game because of its early deficit, forcing Rutgers-bound quarterback Chris Laviano to throw the ball 32 times, of which he completed 18 for 261 yards. The Xaverian defense was otherwise dominant, forcing three turnovers and grinding the Holy Trinity run game to a halt until the final minutes when the game was out of reach.
With the win, Xaverian now pulls even with Holy Trinity at 2–4 and is still much in the mix for a playoff spot as a host of teams have two win. The players feel this is a win to build off of heading into their regular season finale against defending league champ St. Anthony’s next week.
“This is just a stepping stone to where we were supposed to be from the beginning of the season,” said Kearney. “We had some falls, but now it’s time to make a big turnaround.”
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