St. Joe romps to Non-Public 1 title

Posted: December 03, 2011

EWING, N.J. - St. Joseph was a heavy favorite in the NJSIAA Non-Public 1 state football final for a reason. The Wildcats pack a powerful ground game and a suffocating defense that had allowed only two touchdowns all season.

On Saturday, they showed they also can do it through the air.

St. Joseph dominated St. Mary of Rutherford, 51-0, at the College of New Jersey, riding the arm of quarterback Anthony Giagunto to their third straight state title and 14th since 1993.

"To be honest, I wanted to put the ball in the air a little bit and show what I can do," Giagunto said.

The junior completed 6 of 8 passes in the first half, throwing for 150 yards and two TDs before giving way to the run game once the score became one-sided. St. Joseph (10-0) displayed an array of weapons, as five Wildcats scored touchdowns in the first half.

After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on five straight, methodical drives, starting with a 10-yard pass from Giagunto to South Carolina-bound Kaiwan Lewis.

A few minutes later, fullback Eli Pogue punched in a 2-yard touchdown, and the rout was on.

"All the weapons are great." Giagunto said. "I can throw the ball, hand the ball off. We can do anything we want with these guys."

Pogue finished with 12 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow senior back Kaheem Reynolds added 149 yards and a touchdown. Pogue said they used the pass game early to open up the run.

"We knew they were going to take the middle away," he said. "We knew the outside would be there and we could pass on them. We're known for running the ball, and [Giagunto] here just helps out."

The Wildcats usually employ a three-pronged rushing attack with Pogue, Reynolds, and senior Darryl Smith. Smith received only four carries Saturday, but showed up in virtually every other section of the stat sheet. The senior threw a touchdown pass on an option, caught a touchdown pass, and notched an interception on defense.

"I didn't have an interception all year, and I finally got it," Smith said. "It feels good to end my senior year like this."

St. Mary never got anything going on offense. The Gaels (6-4) found no cracks in a stout St. Joseph defense, notching only three first downs and 83 total yards.

Wildcats coach Paul Sacco wouldn't give in after the game when asked where this team ranked among the greats of the St. Joseph powerhouse he has built.

"We've had many great teams," he said. "To me, they've all found a special place in my heart, but I'll let the people decide what team was the best."

St. Mary   0 0 0 0 – 0

St. Joseph   24 14 0 13 – 51

SJ: Lewis 10 pass from Giagunto (Smith run)

SJ: Pogue 2 run (Reynolds pass from Giagunto)

SJ: Thompson 32 pass from Smith (Giagunto run)

SJ: Reynolds 5 run (Pogue run)

SJ: Smith 62 pass from Giagunto (run failed)

SJ: Pogue 26 run (kick failed)

SJ: Pogue 26 run (Valles kick)

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