The Bishop Ford Falcons had hopes of earning the high seed in the Catholic High School Football League’s Class AA post season, but a 49–32 defeat by St. Francis Prep last Saturday at Mitchel Field didn’t help their chances.
Still, the hard-fought loss didn’t discourage Falcons coach Jim Esposito.
“If we play like this we’ll be fine,” he said.
Despite heroic efforts by Ford, it came up short and turned the ball over three times. Quarterback James Esposito, the coach’s son, threw three interceptions — including two in the final quarter to the Terriers Jonathan Joseph. The final pick was returned 97 yards for a touchdown with only a minute left in the game. Jim Esposito didn’t feel the interceptions discouraged his team.
“Absolutely not, we compete, we compete every second of every game” coach said.
Bishop Ford (6–3, 5–3), which has won consecutive Class A crowns, got off to fast start when Rolando Ellis returned the opening kickoff for an 85-yard touchdown to give his squad an early 6–0 lead. Trailing 7–6 late in the first quarter, Esposito connected with Rodney Gonzales for a 31-yard touchdown pass, which gave the Falcons a 12–7 lead. The Falcons defense struggled against the quick St. Francis Prep (8–1, 8–0) offense and found themselves trailing at the half 28–20. St. Francis Prep’s Justin Guerre and Tariq Olivier scored two rushing touchdowns each.
Bishop Ford committed a couple of costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which resulted in an ejection for senior Walter Ferdinand. The Falcons’ penalties helped out the Terriers, who scored in the final minute of the third quarter to make the score 35–26.
Bishop Ford had trouble moving the chains in the fourth quarter and St. Francis Prep made it turn the ball over twice on downs. The Terriers took advantage of the ball possession in the fourth and added to the lead with a touchdown to make the score 42–26. Eventually, the Falcons would get more points on the scoreboard after Gonzales sneaked in the end zone to cut the deficit, 42–32 with only 7:00 minutes to play in the contest.
Ford had a chance to create a possible fourth-quarter comeback when it stripped the ball from the Terriers after throwing an interception. Bishop Ford got inside the St. Francis Prep 10-yard line, but Jonathan leaped up, grabbed the interception and ran it in for a pick-six to make the score 49–36 and hand the Falcons’ a second-straight loss.
Jim Esposito doesn’t believe the loss hurts his team at all and will only make them better next week when they host Mount St. Michael in the AA quarterfinals. He doesn’t see his team’s confidence shaken going in the playoffs.
“This doesn’t hurt us, this helps us,” Jim Esposito said. “We don’t care about winning or losing, as long as we play hard — and we played hard.”