"They do this every week," St. Augustine coach Mark Reardon said of St. Joseph, which overcame an early deficit and an uncharacteristic series of mistakes to emerge with a 42-14 victory.
Sophomore running back Rocco Ordille carried the football seven times for 137 yards and three touchdowns and senior quarterback Anthony Giagunto ran for one score and passed for another for St. Joseph (7-0), which won its 25th game in a row.
Senior Calvin Cass rushed 17 times for 118 yards and a touchdown for St. Augustine (6-1).
"They were the better football team," Reardon said. "They out-athleted us and out-physical-ed us."
St. Joseph senior two-way lineman Kevin Goldsmith called the game a "holy war," because it matched two Catholic schools that are fierce rivals.
St. Augustine had built its perfect record in the Cape-Atlantic National Division, playing smaller schools such as Middle Township, Lower Cape May, and Bridgeton as well as struggling Group 5 program Vineland.
St. Joseph had fashioned its unblemished mark in the Cape-Atlantic American Division, facing Group 5 powers such as Absegami and Atlantic City as well as Egg Harbor Township, Millville, and Holy Spirit.
"It beats us up," Goldsmith said of the Wildcats' demanding schedule. "But we're prepared for every game."
St. Joseph committed two turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and also was hurt by penalties. The contentious game featured a flurry of flags on both teams.
"I give our kids a lot of credit," St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said. "We weren't that sharp. I look back at that game last week [a 28-25 win at Atlantic City], and that was such a physical game and it took a lot out of us.
"I think we had a little bit of a letdown, but because of the rivalry [with St. Augustine], our kids were able to pick it up."
After St. Augustine took a 7-0 lead on Cass' 54-yard run, St. Joseph answered with a methodical attack led by Giagunto (9-for-17 passing for 112 yards, five carries for 48 yards) as well as junior Cody Sampson (18 carries, 87 yards) and senior Miles Pease (16 carries, 44 yards).
Ordille's touchdown runs covered 7, 32 and 60 yards. The Wildcats also grabbed three interceptions, recovered a fumble, and scored with just 14 seconds remaining in the first half on a 27-yard pass from Giagunto to senior Casey Pullyblank.
"It's tough when your first really big game is the seventh game of the year," Reardon said. "We didn't handle it very well. But hopefully, this is a loss that has value and our kids understand what it takes to be a program like St. Joe's."
St. Augustine 7 0 0 7 – 14
St. Joseph 7 21 7 7 – 42
SA: Calvin Cass 54 run (Kyle Snow kick)
SJ: Cody Sampson 3 run (Jon Ryker kick)
SJ: Anthony Giagunto 1 run (Ryker kick)
SJ: Rocco Ordille 7 run (Ryker kick)
SJ: Casey Pullyblank 27 pass from Giagunto (Ryker kick)
SJ: Ordille 32 run (Ryker kick)
SA: Justyce Pollitt 73 fumble return (Snow kick)
SJ: Ordille 60 run (Ryker kick)
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports