WESTWOOD — St. John’s Prep quarterback Jack Sharrio said the football seemed unusually dry Thursday, but it sure looked as though an eager cook had mistakenly basted the pigskin instead of the bird.
In the lowest-scoring game in the 21-year history of the St. John’s Prep-Xaverian holiday matchup, the ball was slipping out all over the field, resulting in eight fumbles, six of which were recovered by the defense.
There was only one big play — a 95-yard touchdown pass to Alex Moore — but it led St. John’s Prep to an ugly 9-0 win and a Catholic Conference title.
“We knew they played tough defense,” said Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “But when the time came to get things done — a pass out of the end zone — that’s not what [Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson] was expecting right there.
“And Alex is a pretty good player — probably the best in the state. I haven’t seen him drop balls. Ever. He doesn’t drop balls.”
It was late in the third quarter, and the Prep was clinging to a 2-0 lead after a bad snap on a Xaverian punt led to a safety early in the game.
After the Eagles had come away painfully empty on four first-half trips to the red zone — which ended in two failed fourth-down conversions, a lost fumble, and an interception — they took over on their own 10-yard line.
O’Leary first called a run to Johnathan Thomas, trying to give the offense some room to operate. The Hawks weren’t biting. They stuffed the players in the box and pulled Thomas down for a 5-yard loss.
Enough of that, O’Leary figured. So he took a risk.
Moore lined up on the outside with one-on-one coverage. Sharrio checked to him.
Sharrio says he wasn’t nervous. Moore was.
“I’m just thinking, ‘I have to make this catch, because if I don’t make it, a lot of people are going to look down upon me,’ ” he said.
Sharrio dropped back to pass and the Hawks flooded the backfield. He launched the ball 25 yards and hoped for the best.
The throw was short, but Moore leaped and snagged the ball around his defender, who fell to the ground. Moore took off downfield, ran over the safety, and jetted to the end zone.
The Eagles’ defense did the rest, holding the Hawks (4-7) to just 126 total yards.
St. John’s Prep (9-1) will take on Andover (10-1) in the Division 1 semifinals Tuesday.