Iona cruises past rival Stepinac
In rivalry games you can throw the records out the window. The less talented team can sometimes stay in the game if the favorite doesn’t get off to a good start.
Fortunately for Iona Prep (6-1), good starts aren’t a problem.
The Gaels’ Alex Raimondi picked off a pass on the game’s first series and recovered a fumble later in the first quarter as Iona Prep jumped out to a three-touchdown lead early and cruised to a 42-14 victory over Stepinac (2-5). Iona forced three turnovers in the game.
“Knowing that it’s a rivalry game we wanted to come out and set the tone on defense,” Raimondi said. “We went out their first and our job is to get the offense the ball.”
Iona did its offensive damage on the ground racking up close to 300 yards total rushing in the game. Shaquille Townsend led the way with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Quarterback Mario Biaggi added 80 yards on 19 carries and a score. Backup running back Nick D’Angelo (78 yards) scored twice for the Gaels on just four carries.
“Our offense has been real good and it shows when guys can come off the bench and do just as well,” Townsend said. “When players behind you have the same energy, it’s tough to stop.”
Iona’s special teams did its job in the win with two blocked punts to give the Gaels a complete team effort.
“We definitely played well in all areas today, we knew they’d come out hard, so we had to match that,” Raimondi said. “We had a few penalties today, but we overcame it.”
Stepinac had a chance to get into the game early in the third quarter down 21-0, but Townsend broke his best run of the day, a 60-yard scamper down the sideline for a backbreaking touchdown.
Stepinac’s bright spots on the day included Ryan Burnett’s 142 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Crusaders struggled against the run, but the pass rush was excellent. Osaze Perry-Porter sacked Biaggi twice, and the Iona quarterback was never comfortable in the pocket.
Dan Hoffer completed 13 of 25 passes for 151 yards in the loss.
Iona’s talent was too much to handle for the Crusaders.
“We just have to keep building towards the playoffs,” Townsend said. “This was a big win because it’s Stepinac, but we’re looking towards that number one seed.”
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