Xavier Knight’s lance Falcons, 17–14

Hold the line: Bishop Ford put up a valiant defense against the Xavier Knights on Saturday, but ultimately fell 17–14 after Xavier’s kicker sent one through the posts in overtime.
Photo by Brit Worgan

Jimmy Wolfer’s 24-yard field goal in overtime handed the Bishop Ford Falcons its second straight loss this season against Manhattan’s Xavier Knights, who pulled out a 17–14 win in a Catholic High School Football League Class AA-A game at Aviator Sports Complex on Saturday night.

The fated kick ended an emotionally taxing finish for Ford. The Falcons tied the score at 14–14 with three minutes remaining in regulation on an electrifying 71-yard touchdown run by junior running back Dante Aiken and the chance to sneak away with a win in overtime. The Falcons (3–2, 3–2) won that toss, took the ball, but failed to score on the opening drive of the alternating-possession extra period. It left the door open for a game-winning field goal opportunity for Xavier (4–2, 3–2).

“Sometimes football breaks your heart,” Bishop Ford coach Jim Esposito said. “We played as good as we could have played, but we didn’t make the play at the end.”

As the ball passed through the uprights, securing the win for the Knights, a wave of disappointment washed over the faces on the Bishop Ford sideline. The team’s walk to the locker room was slow and reserved. Saturday’s game makred the Falcon’s second straight defeat since starting the season 3–0 and face first-place St. Francis Prep next week. The Bishop Ford boys had high hopes they would be heading into that contest of an emotional win.

“We felt like we had it, but we just should have worked harder,” Aiken said. “That’s why they won.”

Aiken was the centerpiece of the Falcon offense, as he has been for much of the season. He carried the ball 17 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. His performance took some pressure off of starting quarterback Xaviah Mattocks.

He struggled against a strong Xavier defense, completing 3-of-18 passes for 40 yards, though he did throw an important six-yard touchdown to Rodney Gonzales that tied the score at 8–8 with six second left before the half.

But the Bishop Ford defense was unable to contain talented Xavier running back and Brooklyn native Trey Solomon, despite running a virulent monkey on his back — bronchitis. The junior finished with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

“For him to come out and play shows how much heart he has,” Xavier senior running back Ryan Kilgallen said. “He’s just a big-time player and he’s our leader.”

The loss will force Bishop Ford, the defending ‘A’ champions to dig deep for the two weeks leading up to the playoffs. The Windsor Terrace team is now on the outside looking in at the Class AA playoffs with Xavier and Cardinal Hayes holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Regardless of the loss, the Bishop Ford coach saw his team hold the line and was proud.

“Three or four years ago, we couldn’t be on the field competing with Xavier and tonight we had them on the ropes,” Esposito said. “I think we’re a good football team.”

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