DePaul football falls to Red Bank Catholic in Non-Public B title game

·4 min read

EAST RUTHERFORD - DePaul said goodbye to its bid for a state football championship and chance at the No. 1 ranking in New Jersey.

The Spartans, No. 3 in the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey Top 25 rankings, lost to No. 10 Red Bank Catholic, 13-8, in the Non-Public Group B final Friday night at MetLife Stadium.

DePaul's final-play throw to the end zone fell incomplete. On a fourth-and-11 from the 30, sophomore backup quarterback Patrick Grusser's throw into the end zone was batted away by a Red Bank Catholic defender.

“We’ve been great on defense all year, I thought so again tonight, and we just didn’t get it done offensively,” DePaul coach Nick Campanile said. “To score eight points in a state championship, it’s not going to be enough against a great team like these guys.”

Grusser replaced senior starter AJ Rodriguez, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter, Campanile said. Grusser went 10-for-16 for 74 yards.

“We played a sophomore who played his heart out and I thought he played really well for the situation he’s been put into,” Campanile said. “He’s got the heart of a champion and I’m looking forward to two more years with him.”

Check out the photo gallery, then continue reading.

Red Bank Catholic took a 13-8 lead at 2:11 of the third on a 2-yard TD run by senior quarterback Alex Brown. The Caseys’ drive covered 14 plays and 71 yards and included a fake punt and pass completion on a fourth-and-3 from their own 36.

DePaul scored on the first possession of the third quarter for an 8-7 lead, as senior running back Tyler Brown scored on an 11-yard run at 8:51. Brown’s TD capped an 8-play, 71-yard drive, and he ran right, then cut back hard left for the end zone.

DePaul cut the deficit to 7-2 when sophomore Jeremy Lopez blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone at 4:54 of the first quarter. It came on a fourth-and-four at the 11-yard line and Lopez blocked it right on the goal line.

Red Bank Catholic scored on the game's first possession, with Brown throwing a 33-yard TD pass to junior Najih Rahman at 8:59 of the first quarter. The scoring drive covered eight plays and 71 yards, a majority of its 103 first-half yards.

What it means

DePaul De'zie Jones strches out but can't pull in a long pass as Red Bank Joe Diorio triest to block it. DePaul High School vs Red Bank Catholic in NJSIAA Non-Public B Championship Game in East Rutherford on November 26, 2021.
DePaul De'zie Jones strches out but can't pull in a long pass as Red Bank Joe Diorio triest to block it. DePaul High School vs Red Bank Catholic in NJSIAA Non-Public B Championship Game in East Rutherford on November 26, 2021.

DePaul (9-3) could still remain in the Top 10 in the state rankings, pending several outcomes, while Red Bank Catholic (11-1) should climb multiple spots.

DePaul entered the weekend ranked behind top-ranked Bergen Catholic and No. 2 Northern Highlands. To finish No. 1, the Spartans needed a win, combined with a Bergen Catholic loss Saturday to Don Bosco in the Non-Public A final and a Northern Highlands loss to Irvington in next weekend's North Group 4 final.

Key drive

Red Bank Catholic's game-winning drive was key. On the fake punt, the fourth play of the drive, junior Sabino Portella threw a 12-yard completion to senior Joe Diorio.

“I thought we had to move the ball opportunistically, because that’s a great defense, and make some plays in the run game, because they’re phenomenal," Red Bank Catholic coach Mike Lange said. "But we’ve got a good defense, too.”

By the numbers

DePaul had 276 total yards. Sophomore Jadin Johnson carried 12 times for 107 yards, while Tyler Brown rushed 16 times for 73 yards.

Red Bank Catholic had 197 yards. Alex Brown, whose mother passed away earlier this month of breast cancer, rushed 11 times for 69 yards and a TD and threw 5-for-10 for 59 yards and a score.

Rodriguez missed

DePaul had to change its game plan after Rodriguez departed. He is a strong runner and carried twice for 20 yards. He was 1-for-6 for 3 yards and an interception.

“A big part of our plan was to run AJ. He’s a great runner, and the way they play defense, they give you some quarterback runs," Campanile said. "That was really our main focus point of tonight, and we just didn’t have that. But no excuses, and hats off to them, a class program.”

They said it

“I think we started a little slow. We were talking about it this week, how it was imperative that we started off fast. I don’t think we did that. They got off 7-0 at the start," DePaul senior defensive back Edward Conoran said. "We got our stuff together about halfway through the game and started shutting them down. They were pulling out a lot of tricks and stuff, but I think we did what we had to do at the end of the day, but it wasn’t enough.”

“I’m just real proud of these guys,” Campanile said. “We caught some bad breaks tonight, but we never quit, and that’s been our mantra all year. They play as hard as they can.”

Greg Mattura is a sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your phone, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.

Email: mattura@northjersey.com

Twitter: @gregmattura

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: DePaul NJ football falls to Red Bank Catholic in Non-Public B final

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting