WESTWOOD — Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson gathered his team in the end zone for a postgame celebration. But there was one player missing.
Noah Sorrento was late to the party. His tardiness was understandable, though, as Sorrento was a few yards away, engulfed in a sea of television cameras and recorders.
Everyone wanted to talk to the senior running back about his memorable Thanksgiving Day performance.
Sorrento rushed for four touchdowns and 176 yards in a 34-13 victory over rival St. John’s Prep at the Hawk Bowl. Xaverian (11-0, 4-0) captured the Catholic Conference title and the Brother William Drinan Trophy.
“Noah does what Noah does. When he’s getting holes, he’s tough. The way and the times when he made his runs were just pretty special. That was very impressive, no question,” said Stevenson, whose Hawks improved to 14-9 against the Prep on Thanksgiving.
Senior defensive end Alex Papadopoulos led the Xaverian defense, which hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season. Papadopoulos registered a sack and recovered two second-half fumbles that led to Sorrento scores.
“Pap has been playing hard for us all year long. He’s been working hard for four years to get out on the field this year and I’m happy to see him have some good memories here on Thanksgiving Day,” said Stevenson.
Sorrento got top-ranked Xaverian on the board first with 7:55 to go in the second quarter, bulldozing his way into the end zone from a yard to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead.
The fifth-ranked Prep (8-3, 3-1) responded with a 14-play drive that lasted close to seven minutes. Despite being sacked three times on the drive, Ollie Eberth hung in the pocket and found Owen Rockett on a slant route for a 13-yard touchdown on third and 9. The Eagles missed the extra point and trailed, 7-6, at halftime.
After forcing the Prep to punt on the first drive of the second half, Xaverian grabbed a 14-6 lead. After completing completed a 16-yard pass to Joe Gaziano, Jake Farrell (7 of 14, 58 yards; three rushes, 52 yards) shed a tackle and rushed for a 32-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, Papadopoulos recovered a fumbled snap at the Prep 2. Sorrento rumbled in on the first play to extend the Hawks lead to 20-6.
But the Prep came storming back. Eberth found Rockett again, this time for a 7-yard score that cut the Xaverian lead to 20-13 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
That was as close as the Eagles would get. Sorrento made it 27-13 on the ensuing drive, rushing for all 76 yards, including a monster 40-yard dash up the right sideline for the score.
The Prep fumbled on their next play and Papodopoulos was there to scoop it up at the Prep 30. Six plays later, Sorrento scored from 13 yards for his final touchdown.
“It was a great second half, we really ran the ball well,” said Sorrento. “The line really opened it up. I was just getting the ball and there was a lot of open field.
“We have a great group of seniors here. They really deserve it. They’ve been working hard for four years. It’s something we’ll remember forever.”
Xaverian, which escaped the game without injuries, now prepare for an even bigger challenge: the Division 1 Super Bowl against Everett Dec. 6 at Gillette Stadium. The Hawks handed the second-ranked Crimson Tide (9-1) their only loss in the season opener.
“We’re ready to go,” said Stevenson. “We know what the game is going to be. We know what Everett is, they are very, very good. In my opinion, we’re the two best teams, so it will be a great game.”