WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Nobody had to look at the scoreboard at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium to know what Holy Redeemer had finally accomplished.
It was evident at the end of the game when the jubilant Royals started leaping to greet their joyous fans in the stands.
‚??We did it!‚?Ě exclaimed Redeemer quarterback Jimmy Strickland.
At long last, they snapped a 22-game losing streak.
Strickland threw for 138 yards Monday, Jason Hoggarth caught 90 yards worth of passes and Justin Renfer scored the final two touchdowns as the Royals held off Holy Cross, 33-21 while ending a skid that followed them through two full seasons and parts of two others.
‚??They were crying, you saw the emotions,‚?Ě first-year Redeemer coach Pat Reece said. ‚??It‚??s the greatest feeling ever.
‚??They really needed this win.‚?Ě
They fought for it.
The Royals lost a seemingly-comfortable 20-7 lead they‚??d built early in the second half and fell behind 21-20 with 6:43 to play.
But they rallied back on top when fullback Renfer scored on a 1-yard touchdown blast with 2:15 remaining, then secured the victory when Renfer ‚?? a linebacker on defense ‚?? picked off a pass and returned it 74 yards for the game‚??s final score with one second on the game clock.
‚??I was going to score,‚?Ě said Renfer, who put his head down and ran through at least two tackles while covering the final 50 yards of his game-sealing score. ‚??Nothing was going to stop me.‚?Ě
The Royals didn‚??t stop until they had their first victory since late in the 2009 season.
‚??They wanted it,‚?Ě Reese said.
The Redeemer defense wanted the end zone ‚?? turning three of their four turnovers into touchdowns. And Strickland connected on his first seven passes and wound up 12-for-17 with 138 passing yards while battling through a lower leg injury suffered in the second half.
‚??The adrenaline just kept me playing,‚?Ě Strickland said. ‚??I knew we were going to win.‚?Ě
Some game-changing defensive play made the Royals feel that way.
Eric Kerr scooped up a loose ball and returned it 76 yards for Redeemer‚??s first score, and Eric Shorts recovered another Holy Cross fumble and went 38 yards to the end zone with it for a 14-7 Royals advantage later in the opening half.
Strickland started the second half by connecting with Hoggarth on a 49-yard bomb, setting up Strickland‚??s three-yard scoring run for a 20-7 Redeemer lead.
Then things got tense for the Royals.
Patrick Hagan romped 11 yards for his team‚??s second touchdown run of the game, and quarterback Connor Callejas scooted five yards for a touchdown as Holy Cross came back to take a 21-20 lead with 6:43 to play.
‚??We were ready for the challenge,‚?Ě Renfer said.
Were they ever.
Hoggarth made a leaping 34-yard grab of Strickland‚??s fourth-down pass to keep the winning touchdown drive alive, then Pat Villani charged 18 yards with a screen pass to put Redeemer two yards from the end zone.
Two plays later, Renfer bulled across and into the end zone with 2:15 to go, then turned around to seal the victory from his linebacker spot with his pick six.
‚??We teach them to play all the way down to the last second,‚?Ě Reese said. ‚??Now they tasted victory. Now they know what it feels like. Now they‚??ll play with more urgency out there.
Holy Redeemer 33, Holy Cross 21
HR ‚?? Eric Kerr 76 fumble recovery (Mark Cantafio kick), 6:02
HC ‚?? Shawn Iezzi 6 run (Patrick Hagan kick), 9:19
HR ‚?? Eric Shorts 38 fumble recovery (Cantafio kick), 3:07
HR ‚?? Jimmy Strickland 3 run (kick blocked), 10:05
HC ‚?? Hagan 11 run (Hagan kick), 7:37
HC ‚?? Connor Callejas 5 run (Hagan kick), 6:43
HR ‚?? Justin Renfer 1 run (pass failed), 2:15
HR ‚?? Renfer 74 interception return (Cantafio kick), 0:01
|Team Statistics||Holy Cross||Redeemer|
RUSHING ‚?? HC, Patrick Hagan 30-213, Connor Callejas 13-61, Shawn Iezzi 6-32, Cody Petcavage 2-11, Nico Valvano 1-1, Thomas Ware 1- (minus 4), Eric Gatto 3- (minus 6); HR, Jimmy Strickland 6-32, Eric Kerr 3-18, Justin Renfer 8-8, Charles Ross 3-7, Pat Villani 2-1, Tyler Kastendieck 1-0.
PASSING ‚?? HC, Gatto 4-16-2, 42, Callejas 1-1-0, 6, TEAM 0-1-0; HR, Strickland 12-17-0, 138.
RECEIVING ‚?? HC, Andrew Miles 2-21, R.J. Klein 1-13, Iezzi 1-8, Hagan 1-6; HR, Kerr 4-11, Jason Hoggarth 3-90, Pat Villani 3-19, Vincent Villani 1-12, Chad Fahey 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS ‚?? HR, Pat Villani, Renfer.