The Foran High football team needed a victory against crosstown rivals Jonathan Law and some help to qualify for the Class M state football tournament.
Coach Jeff Bevino’s Lions took care of the first part of the equation, defeating the host Lawmen 50-7 in front of approximately 2,000 fans on Thanksgiving Day.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the rest of the Class M field didn’t break the right way. Foran, at 8-3 overall, finished 10th in the playoff point rankings — missing out on a tournament spot by two places.
“They played like they always have. They played with emotion, they played with determination and conviction,” Bevino said.
“I’m so happy with the way our year ended up the way we we’re playing defense. Our offense has always been tremendous for us. We weren’t bad today (on offense), but defensively I just thought we were magnificent.”
Quarterback Jake Kasuba threw touchdown passes to Sean Deegan and Nick Weissauer, while Stephen Longley rushed for a pair of scores for the Lions.
“This game is always our biggest game,” Kasuba said. “To know it’s our last game for our seniors, I’m glad we got the win for them.”
Weissauer and Sam Olsson added rushing touchdowns, while Zach White closed out the Foran scoring with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Foran dominated special-teams play, blocking three Law punts to go along with White’s touchdown return.
“That hurt big,” Law coach Mark Robinson said. “If we didn’t have the blocked punts, it’s 7-0 in the first half. It just didn’t go our way.”
The Lawmen’s lone score came on a touchdown run from Joe Ziebell late in the fourth quarter. Law finished its season at 4-7.
A blocked punt set up Foran’s first score, with Dave McLenithan stuffing Timmy Maher’s kick and Nik Griswold catching the loose ball.
Two plays later, Weissauer, running behind Luke Edmonson, Anthony Raccio, Jesse Alldredge, Zach Hubler and Aniber Moras, took a jet sweep around right end.
“Our offensive line was making big holes.” Kasuba said.
The first of Sam Olsson’s four successful PATs made it 7-0 with 1:53 left in the first quarter.
Maher, rotating in for Giovanni Marzullo at quarterback, then ran the ball six straight times to breach Lion territory. Marzullo was stopped for a loss on third-and-5, forcing the Lawmen to punt again.
The Eagles defense strung together a stop, with Deegan kicking it back to Law.
After a three-and-out by the Lawmen, the Lions collapsed the punt protection again. Anthony Kopatch recorded the block this time, with Colin Lydiksen recovering at the Law 17.
On first down, Kasuba threw a screen pass to Weissauer in the flat, who raced to the end zone for a 17-yard score.
“At that point in time, we had made some mistakes,” Bevino said of the momentum-swinging second punt block. “It was a ball game at that point in time.”
Connor Cadrin broke up a pass to defuse Law’s next drive, before the Lions rolled 69 yards in 10 plays to grab a 22-0 lead heading into the half.
Longley and White had key receptions to spark the scoring drive, with Deegan snaring a 15-yard slant to cap it.
The senior wide receiver broke a tackle at the goal line with 2:05 left, before Weissauer threw the two-point conversion pass to White.
Kopatch recovered a Law fumble on the opening drive of the second half, setting up the Lions at the Eagle 25.
Law’s defense held, as Kasuba’s fourth-down pass fell was incomplete.
The Lawmen took over and looked to capitalize on the energizing stop, but the offense failed to pick up a first down.
Maher again dropped back to punt, with Kopatch flying in for the third Lions’ block of the game. Griswold again came up with the recovery.
“Kopatch is one of the most underrated players in the SCC. He’s been doing that all year long,” Bevino said. “He’s a flash, he’s a beast… He’s a very, very good football player.”
Longley’s 1-yard run gave the Lions points off of a turnover again, before the junior tailback stuffed in an 8-yard run on the heels another Law three-and-out.
Lion senior lineman Ben Croll recovered a fumble on Law’s ensuing drive, giving Foran the ball inside Law territory for the fourth time in the second half. After three bruising runs from Andrew Kohn, Olsson rumbled in for a 1-yard score. The senior then added to extra point for the 44-0 Lion advantage with 10:48 left to play.
White’s punt return, followed by a kneel down on the conversion, made it 50-0.
Law took over possession with 7:47, driving 75 yards in eight plays to avert the shutout. Maher, running behind Drew Carolan, Sam McTighe, Jimmy Davenport, Nick Casagrande and Efraine Negrone, scrambled for 23 yards on first down.
Ziebell, who rushed 17 times for 54 yards, scored from five yards outs with 3:55 left to play, with Mick Murray closing the scoring at 50-7 with an extra point.
“They have a lot of weapons. They can do a lot of different things,” Robinson said. “They did it well and they did their game plan better than we did today and it goes to the better team today.”
Cadrin rushed for a game-high 87 yards on six carries. Foran put up 394 yards of offense — 167 passing and 227 rushing.
“We run it pretty well and we throw it well, Bevino said. “We wanted to be fifty-fifty… We felt confident we would move the ball. It was just a matter of time.”
Tim Maher, who intercepted a pass on defense, was given the Teddy Paul Kostopoulous Game MVP Award for the Lawmen.
The Joe Beler Sr. Defensive MVP was awarded to Ziebell, who notched a team-high 14 tackles.
Senior wide receiver/linebacker Chris Bellegarde was the recipient of the Les Beaulieu Unsung Hero Award.
Alex Boyd, a senior defensive lineman, won the Lawmen Alumni Award, while Casagrande picked up the Ray Bloxsom Milford High Remembrance Award for top lineman.
Jake Kasuba, who completed 12-of-25 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns and added 34 yards rushing on seven carries, was the Ken Walker Game MVP for the Lions.
Nick Weissauer, who had four receptions for 104 yards, earned the Daniel S. Wasson Offensive Player of the Game.
Olsson was given the Mario Ponsale Coaches’ Award.
Kopatch took home the Mike Miller Individual Effort Award.
Andrew Melendez was the Joe Beler Defensive MVP for the Lions.
Nik Griswold was the Bloxsom Milford High Remembrance Award winner.