Quick-strike Lions defeat Lawmen

Opponents have had difficulties dealing with the Foran High football teams’ big-play capability all season long.

A Jonathan Law squad fell victim to the quick-strike Lions that on a cold and crisp Thanksgiving Day morning, when the two teams squared off for their 40th meeting at Foran’s Vito DeVito Sports Complex.

The Lions (6-5) used long-distance scoring strikes off the trusty passing-arm of quarterback Jake Kasuba, and two crucial turnovers by Law at the start of the second half, to extend their winning streak in the series over the Lawmen to seven straight with a 41-21 victory before close to 3,000.

Kasuba, who accounted for close to 11,000 yards in his three-year career at Foran, threw touchdown passes of 60, 56 and 51 yards in the first half alone, but the Lions were never able to break away from a determined Law team which received three first-half scores and trailed only 28-21 at intermission.

Law’s downfall, however, came at the start of the third quarter. The Eagles couldn’t handle the kickoff and Foran’s Rob Laggis wound up with the ball at the Eagles’ 28.

Kasuba, who had 108 yards rushing on 22 carries, ran nine yards on the first play, before completing a 6-yard pass to Brett Huber and the Lions had a first down on the Law 13-yard line.

After two more running plays and a penalty brought the ball to the 4, Kasuba ran it in from there with 9:36 to play in the third quarter. Foran opened up a 14-point lead when kicker Joe Radecki converted the placement.

What came next completely turned the game around. Foran went onsides with the kick and Josh Mixie recovered for the Lions on the Law 32-yard line. Kasuba called his own number on three straight occasions, bringing the ball to the 26.

From there, primary running back Stephen Longley did the rest. First, he rambled 16 yards to the 10, before finding a big hole on the right side of the line and going the distance as Foran went up 41-21 with 7:05 left in the third quarter.

“We had a longer halftime (30 minutes) than usual,” said Foran linebacker David McLenithan, one of 16 Lion seniors who played in their last high school game. “It gave us a little more time to relax. It also got us fired up. Those two turnovers changed the way this game was going.

“It’s a nice win because I know several of the guys on their team (they play hockey together) and now I have bragging rights for another year.”

Foran coach Jeff Bevino has now beaten Law in seven of his eight years as the head coach at Foran. He felt the game played right into his teams’ hands.

“We were able to pass the ball early, then run it late once we got those two, quick touchdowns in the second half,” he said. “We made the clock their enemy after that.

“I’ll tell you, we knew this was going to be a tough game coming in. They’re big, physical and a much improved team. They made us work for this win.”

Kasuba got his team started early. Getting great protection behind his offensive line of Sam Kopatch, Anthony Raccio, Aniber Moras, Michael Howell and Luke Edmondson, Kasuba rifled a pass down the right sideline which was corralled by Huber as two Law defenders collided with each other. The play covered 60 yards for a score just 1:18 into the game on Foran’s first possession. Radecki’s conversion kick gave the host team a 7-0 lead.

Giovanni Marzullo, who teamed with Max German to rush for 247 yards, took the kickoff back 75 yards for a score. Mick Murray’s kick made it 7-7 at 10:24 of the first.

A 51-yard pass completion from Kasuba, who was 9-of-16 for 226 yards, to Colin Firmender capped a four-play, 68-yard drive and gave Foran a 13-7 lead with 8:37 left in the opening quarter. Radecki upped it by a point with his second straight kick.

Law, running out of the Wing-T offense, came right back with its offensive line of Brandon Chiaraluce, Patrick Conway, Dylan Lucas, Drew Carolan and Sean Rice leading the way.

The Lawmen marched 58 yards on 11 attempts to score on Marzullo’s 10-yard run at the 3:26 mark. Murray’s successful point-after pulled Law even at 14-14.

Foran then put together its longest drive of the game and the end result was a 7-yard touchdown run by Huber. Radecki hit his third straight kick and the Lions surged ahead 21-14.

The wild first half continued when Kasuba threw his third scoring pass with 4:40 to play. He found Firmender open down the left side and the speedy receiver outraced everyone into the end zone. Radecki’s point-after gave Foran a 14-point lead.

But it took Law only three tries on its next series to score. All three carries were taken by German (158 yards on 25 attempts), the last one covering 55 yards. Murray made it a 28-21 game shortly before the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.

The second half turned quickly into Foran’s favor.

“That’s the way football is at times,” said Law coach Derrick Lewis, whose team during one stretch won five straight games before finishing with a 5-6 record. “They were able to capitalize on two mistakes by us. That’s what winning teams do.

“This was shaping up to be a high-scoring game and we were very willing and ready to win 75-70 if need be. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”

Lewis was pleased with his team’s effort. “This (the loss) doesn’t take anything away from what our kids have done in the past this year,” he said. “Football teams are supposed to peak in November and we certainly did. Our kids worked hard and we’re both mentally and physically prepared for every game. We’re a competitive team once again.

“Having lost some key seniors from last year, we could’ve been staring down the barrel of a 1-10 season. Our guys decided that wasn’t going to happen.”

Offensively, Foran had 453 yards combined (226 passing and 227 rushing) while Law had 244 yards, all on the ground. Foran held a 14-11 margin in first downs and more importantly, never turned the ball over.

Law lost two fumbles and an interception.

“Getting those two scores early in the second half was big for us,” said Kasuba, about his team which won five of its last six games in the process.

“Our passing game was also big in the first half. That helped as well. It doesn’t get any better than to win your last high school football game.”

After the game, Lewis handed out the individual awards to his team. They went to Max German (Teddy Paul Kostopoulous Game MVP Award), Giovanni Marzullo (Lawmen Alumni Award), Drew Carolan (Ray Bloxsom Milford High Remembrance Award for top lineman), Sean Rice (Joe Beler Sr. Defensive MVP), Dylan Vienneau (Robert Taylor Sportsmanship Award) and Jarrod Butts (Les Beaulieu Unsung Hero Award.).

On the other side, coach Bevino gave awards to Mike Bevino (Joe Beler Sr. Defensive Award), Stephen Longley (Mario Ponsale Coaches’ Award), Jake Kasuba (Ken Walker Game MVP ), Brett Huber (Daniel S. Wasson Offensive Player of the Game), Aniber Moras (Ray Bloxsom Milford High Remembrance Award for top lineman) and Colin Firmender (Mike Miller Individual Effort Award).