Sandy • Jordan met its match against an opponent that could keep up with its frenetic pace for the second consecutive week.
Bergen Catholic of New Jersey persevered through an early barrage of touchdowns and got some distance on the defending Class 5A state champions in the second quarter en route to a 56-26 victory in the XFinity Challenge at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“You want to always try and force a team to be out of what they do,” Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile said. “Even though they had success throwing the ball, I didn’t feel they could keep pace with us. We bent a few times but didn’t break.”
In fact, the Crusaders (1-1) scored on six straight possessions in the first half to build a 42-20 halftime lead. Corey Russo rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns while Bergen Catholic amassed 578 yards of total offense.
Though Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis accounted for 565 yards and four touchdowns, it surprisingly wasn’t enough to win the game.
“Our kids played with a lot of resiliency,” Campanile said. “They bowed their back when they got in tight spots. There was a lot of adversity, but I’m proud we stayed focused on the task at hand. Jordan has a ton of great players.”
The teams combined for 35 points in a span of 3 minutes, 32 seconds in the first quarter. From there, however, Bergen Catholic scored three straight touchdowns to grab a 42-14 lead.
The Crusaders’ quick-striking ability proved too much to handle for the Beetdiggers, who have allowed 165 points (41 per game) this season and have lost three consecutive games. Jordan lost 59-36 to East last week.
Kafentzis started cold, completing only 4 of his first 15 passes. The University of Wisconsin commit finished 19 of 42 for 441 yards and added 124 yards on the ground.
“There were a lot of snaps in that game,” Campanile said. “They were a little more game ready than us, having played more games. But this is a big step for us. From a conditioning standpoint, this was beneficial for us.”
Mason Kruger had a big night receiving for the Beetdiggers, hauling in eight passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.