Cathedral’s undefeated season remained intact Saturday night as the Panthers dispatched their toughest foe to date in Pope John Paul II, 26-22, at Madison Park.
With both teams averaging 40-plus points per contest, it was expected that both sides would come barreling out of the gates, but at halftime the score was just 8-6 in favor of Pope John Paul II, which snagged the lead just before the end of the first quarter on a 40-yard strike from junior Ryan Barabe to Billy Satkevich.
Things started to ignite in the second half.
Within the first five minutes, Cathedral showed some of that championship mettle from last season’s Super Bowl-winning team.
The Panthers (4-0) scored a quick 14 points to take the lead. Six plays into the second half, quarterback Jermal Brevard-Jackson scored on a rush from 9 yards out.
Cathedral surprised the Lions (3-1) with an onside kick following its first score, which was recovered by the Panthers, who went up, 20-8, on a 45-yard mad dash by pint-sized Bryan Cedeno.
The Lions stormed back to regain the lead. In under five minutes, the Lions, too, were able to score two touchdowns.
The first, a 50-yard bomb from Barabe to nifty receiver Brady Jones hit him square in the chest at midfield.
Barabe looked so good at times, a Cathedral fan had no choice but to admit the young talent had “quarterback vision” as he lauded him from the stands.
The second score, just four plays after Cathedral’s Byron Martin handed the ball over on a fumble at its 14, Barabe again hooked up with Jones to take a 22-20 lead.
On the subsequent drive, Cathedral put the game away on a hard-to-pull-off catch in the corner of the end zone by Justice Turner from 25 yards out from Brevard-Jackson.
Brevard-Jackson finished with 143 rushing yards on 25 carries for the Panthers.
“Coach Sigsbury teaches us power rushing. He loves when we go out, hit hard, and power the ball,” said Jackson, who was constantly met at the line of scrimmage, but was still able to peel off 3-plus yards nearly every run.
“I didn’t have a good first half, everyone knows that,” he said, speaking of his pass that got picked off in the second quarter. “But we kept on fighting and we came out with a big win to remain undefeated. And it feels good.”