WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America football team rallied from a 21-point, first-half deficit to lead at the half, but a strong second half by Shenandoah secured the win for the Hornets, 45-34.
Rookie quarterback Alejandro Ros threw for three touchdowns and senior cornerback Justin Paige blocked two kicks, returning one for a touchdown, but Shenandoah answered with three rushing scores and some late defense with an interception and three-straight sacks on the final Catholic drive.
The Cardinals were down by three touchdowns early in the second quarter but got on the board on an 18-yard touchdown grab by senior Lucas Morley.
Shenandoah answered with a touchdown pass on the next drive but Ros found Joe Taylor III for two touchdowns on throws of 40 and 16 yards to make it a 24-20 game.
The Hornets were able to move into field goal range on their final drive of the first half and a penalty on a missed attempt set up one free play on an untimed down. Paige was able to bust through the line on the follow-up field goal attempt as he blocked the kick, scooped the loose ball and ran 77 yards for the score.
The halftime break seemed to go in SU's favor however as the 20-minute break in play did not allow the Cardinals to capitalize on the new-found momentum. The Hornets scored three in time in the third and while Catholic got one back on a one-yard run by sophomore Nick Esposito, the Cards could get no closer.
Esposito, 62 yards, led a strong rushing attack as all three Catholic running backs averaged over five yards per carry. Senior Matt Perno rushed 10 times for 58 yards while sophomore Denzel Smith added 23 on four carries.
Junior Nick Della Jacono racked up game highs with eight tackles, five assisted stops and two tackles for loss. Paige added five tackles and a pass breakup to his impressive special teams play.
The Cards play their final road game next Saturday at Emory & Henry.
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