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Archbishop Stepinac Captures First Catholic State Football Title

Archbishop Stepinac's football team captures its first CHSAA state title on Saturday in Buffalo.
Archbishop Stepinac's football team captures its first CHSAA state title on Saturday in Buffalo. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Archbishop Stepinac’s sports teams have won numerous championships over the years. The Crusaders, however, had never before won a Catholic High School Athletic Association football crown.

Until Saturday.

Senior quarterback Tyquell Fields threw for four touchdown passes and T.J. Morrison had nine receptions, four for scores, to lead the Crusaders to a 42-28 win over St. Francis of Buffalo in the CHSAA championship game. The game was played at Gene Masters Field in Grand Island, near Buffalo.

Stepinac finishes the season 12-0. The Crusaders lost in last year’s CHSAA title game to Canisius of Buffalo, the team’s only loss in the past two seasons. The Crusaders cumulative record over the past two seasons is 24-1.

Stepinac opened a 20-0 halftime lead. Fields hit Morrison for touchdown passes of 27 and 59 yards. Morrison also caught a third touchdown pass from Antonio Giannico after an interception by Daniel Negron.

The Crusaders eventually stretched the lead to 28-0 before St. Francis clawed back. Leading 35-21 at the start of the fourth quarter, St. Francis closed to within one score on an interception return by Brandon Metz. A St. Francis drive into Stepinac territory stalled near the 30-yard line.

On the next possession, Malik Crawford’s 11-yard touchdown run re-stored the two-touchdown advantage, and the Crusaders’ defense stepped up with stops on the final St. Francis possessions.

Crawford rushed 20 times for 100 yards for the game, the fourth time he has hit or surpassed the century mark this season. Stepinac’s defense also played well, forcing six turnovers.

Stepinac’s last undefeated season came in 2010, when it also went 12-0.

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