Iona runs past Xaverian in quarters
There was some rust from the three-week layoff. But once Iona Prep got going, the Gaels almost looked better than their pre-Sandy dominance.
Second-seeded Iona Prep dealt Xaverian a thorough 41-20 beating at home on Sunday in the CHSFL AAA Division quarterfinals. Chris Cooper caught four touchdown passes and Aaaqil Sheppard led the defense with three sacks as Iona advanced to the semifinals.
“At first, (the layoff) gave us a little trouble,” Iona quarterback Mario Biaggi said. “But we actually liked the layoff because it gave us extra time to prepare for this game.”
Iona Prep, which last played on Oct. 27 because of Hurricane cancelations, will take its 8-1 record into the semifinals against No. 3 Chaminade, the only team it has lost to this season. They’ll play Sunday at Iona Prep at 1 p.m.
It took Iona just three quarters to build momentum after the three-week layoff. The Gaels opened up a 21-7 halftime lead and extended it to 41-7 in the third before the backups took over.
Biaggi was 16 of 20 passing for 200 yards and three scores and rushed 85 yards on nine carries. Cooper had eight catches for 179 yards and Shaquille Townsend ran for 67 yards and two scores and caught four passes for 39 yards.
Cooper had touchdown catches of 24, 41, 5 and 49 yards, the last coming from backup quarterback Nicholas Kryza late in the third.
The majority of Cooper’s catches came on short throws where he darted through the Xaverian defense.
“He’s a great playmaker,” Biaggi said of Cooper. “You just give him the ball and he’ll just break one tackle, break another tackle and go 80 yards for a touchdown. You can’t replace a guy like him.”
Cooper also keyed an Iona Prep defense that shut down Xaverian’s running game. Clippers star running back Laray Smith had two touchdown runs from 24 and 16 yards. But outside of those two plays, Iona limited him to 7 yards on 20 carries.
Xaverian was sacked seven times, including two by Eric DeSalvo. Clippers quarterback Gregory McGoldrick was 20 of 25 passing for 266 yards, and Peter Tuohy caught eight passes for 130 yards.
“It was an all-around good effort from the offense and the team. A great team effort,” Cooper said. “We’ll celebrate this a little bit but this is just another step for us. We’re just worried about the next round.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ