The '97 seniors started the tradition of playing one of the most elite programs in the state and I think it would be nice if we could be regconized for that. Although we lost that game 20-18 it was definitly one of the greatest games that we played as a group.
P.T. Tarallo, Football Class of '97
Published on 10/19/1997
By Andy Mahoney, Globe Correspondent
MANSFIELD -- Second-ranked Xaverian is used to taking a while to warm up, but yesterday's game was a bit extreme.
After three quarters, Mansfield led, 18-7, and seemed poised for the upset. But a bad snap on a Mansfield punt attempt set up one Xaverian touchdown, then the Hawks got the ball back and scored another with 2:19 remaining for a 21-18 comeback win.
``It was a hell of a football game,'' said Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson after his club improved to 6-0. ``They really challenged us across the board.''
While containing the Xaverian offense, Mansfield took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. The Hornets went ahead, 6-0, when Adam Izzo hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Bill Jackson (11 for 19, 161 yards).
On the next possession, Jackson again went deep, connecting with Ryan Pickard for a 34-yard gain to the Xaverian 25. Jackson and Izzo (8 receptions, 136 yards) hooked up for a 13-yard touchdown pass, giving Mansfield the 12-0 lead with a minute left in the first quarter.
Xaverian responded by marching down to the Mansfield 3, where the Hawks faced third and 1, but an illegal motion penalty followed by two incompletions ended the drive.
Xaverian was able to pin the Hornets, and the Hawks took over at the Mansfield 30, but faced third and 18 two plays later on a sack. Ted Szalno (21 rushes 84 yards) came up with a 30-yard reception from Tyler Grogan. Three plays later, Ryan Whelton caught a 4-yard pass to make it 12-7 at the half.
``At halftime, we felt like we could come out defensively and shut the door on them,'' said Stevenson.
But it would not be that easy, as Mansfield marched to the Hawks' 23. Jackson and Izzo connected for a third score and an 18-7 lead with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
On a Mansfield punt attempt at the end of the third quarter, the snap went over the punter's head, and Xaverian took over at the Hornets' 18. Three plays later, Brian Landolfi scored from 6 yards to bring Xaverian within 18-13 with 9:46 left in the game.
Mansfield again went three and out and the Hawks took over on their own 41 with 8:29 remaining. Xaverian then went 59 yards on 12 plays, eating up over six minutes off the clock, and taking the lead on JP Comella's 1-yard plunge.
GROGAN STEPS UP FOR HAWKSAuthor: By Andrew Mahoney, Globe Correspondent
As the son of the Patriots all-time passing leader Steve Grogan, Tyler Grogan is used to dealing with the pressure of expectations. Saturday in Mansfield, Grogan showed how he handles pressure on the football field as he led No. 2 Xaverian past Mansfield in dramatic fashion.
With 4:22 to play in the fourth, the Hawks were down 18-13 and facing fourth and 3 on the Mansfield 27. Xaverian had no choice but to go for it. In a play that was often a favorite of his father, the Hawks called a play-action fake, as Grogan rolled out to his right and found Brian Landolfi for a 10-yard gain to the 17. Five plays later Xaverian scored and went on to win, 21-18, and improve to 6-0.
Grogan's performance didn't surprise anyone. When he lost the battle to replace Tim Hasselbeck for starting quarterback in his junior year at Xaverian, he concentrated on being the best punter and backup quarterback he could be.
Grogan was ready when he was asked to fill in for an injured Brian Mann, who beat him in the fall of 1996 for the starting job. In his three starts this season for the Hawks, Grogan has completed 18 of 39 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
``Tyler's done a fine job,'' said Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson. ``We're fortunate to have somebody like him in the program.''
Grogan's debut hardly came under ideal circumstances. At Brockton for a Friday night game, Mann had sparked his team to a 20-0 lead at halftime, but he injured his throwing arm when he was sacked on a conversion try. The Hawks received the second-half kickoff but fumbled and recovered on their own 1-yard line.
Xaverian went three and out, then took a safety, but Grogan later engineered a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter for a 28-2 win.
``It was nice to have that drive, because I still needed that bit of confidence,'' said Grogan.
Grogan knows that if Mann comes back, he may be the backup again. While some have speculated that Mann will be back and starting for the Thanksgiving showdown with No. 1 St. John's Prep, no decision has been made. ``I really haven't talked to anyone about it,'' said Stevenson.
``It's up to the coaches,'' said Grogan. ``It's a big game, and if Brian is practicing full out, then the coaches may want to go with his experience. If they go with Brian, I'll just keep working on my kicking game.''
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