STEENS — The situation was desperate for the Columbus Christian Academy football team, trailing by two and facing fourth-and-10 near midfield with five minutes left in the game against Christian Collegiate Academy.

Drake Shaw was up to the challenge, and the result was a wild 34-30 victory for the Rams Friday night in the opening game for both schools..

The junior quarterback was forced out of the pocket and went scrambling. He raced up the field and toward the left sideline, reaching the Bulldogs’ 39. Twelve yards, first down Rams.

“Basically, we were just trying to get the ball downfield,” Shaw said. “We were trying to get a first down, and I knew if we didn’t get it on that it might have been it for the game. Our team did a good job of blocking when they saw I was running. We kept going, kept pushing and got past that first down marker.”

Rejuvenated by the new set of downs, Shaw then hit Caleb Farlow for 13 yards and found McCory Humphries on a little swing pass on the right side that Humphries, twisting away from would-be tacklers, turned into a nine-yard gain.

Jonah Harrison took it from there, sweeping left into the end zone with 3:25 to go. The junior said he knew when he took the handoff that he would score on the play.

“No, I didn’t,” he started to say after the game. “Wait, I take that back. Yeah, I did. Caleb did some good blocking, and it just worked out.”

It took just two minutes of game time for the Rams to go from almost down and out to almost ready to celebrate, and that’s the kind of mental toughness that first-year coach Rusty Mason was thrilled to see.

“I’m really proud of the fight in our kids,” first-year Columbus Christian coach Rusty Mason said. “They had some athletes, they had a lot of skill, and we kept fighting. But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Rams were behind before that final drive because of a 100-yard interception return by Sean Fairley as the Rams were looking for a two-score lead. But Columbus Christian’s resilience after that dramatic turn of events summed up the Rams’ night. They gave up big plays; they made big plays. They suffered emotionally crushing blows; they dealt crushing blows. It was that kind of game, taking three hours to play despite the 10-minute quarters.

“We throw the Tebow pass, and we throw it low,” Mason said of the interception in the end zone. “A mental mistake, had him open, throw it low, they pick it, go all the way back, and we’ve got to come back down the field and fight again. A lot of resolve from the kids tonight.”

The wild finish and dramatic victory didn’t hide the mistakes each team made. And Mason won’t have a problem convincing his players of the need to correct them.

“We had a lot of good plays,” Shaw said.

WRESTLING

Beverly 33, Masconomet/Essex Tech 30: Connor LoColle’s first varsity win at 220 pounds sealed the match win for the Panthers in a tremendously close outing. Jan Williams also earned his first career win at 170 while Garret McNeil won at 126, Luke Loureiro won at 145 and Jonas Pavia won at 195.

 

GIRLS LACROSSE

Peabody 17, Saugus: A dozen players scored goals for the Tanners (now 8-3) led by Hailee Lomasneys pair with seven assists and Amber Kiricoples’ four goals and two helpers. McKayla Fisher added a goal and two assists, Sophie Izzo scored two and single tallies came from Siobahn Smith, Hailey Baker, Katie Amico, Lauren Woods, Sam Silva, Sam Rowe, Emily McDonough and McKenna Forni. Goalkeepers Olivia Lavalle and Lauren Leggett combined for the shutout in net.

 

BASEBALL 

Salem Academy 13, Neighborhood House 1: Junior Waldy Sanchez pitched a complete game and added two hits and one RBI at the plate to help his own cause. Freshman Azriel Taguiam was also a huge contributor in the win, going 3-for-3 and playing some strong D in the outfield. Salem Academy will now travel to Boston Collegiate for the Charter School Championship game. 

 

BOYS LACROSSE

St. John’s Prep 10, Catholic Memorial 0: Behind a hat trick from Luke Surette the Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Catholic Conference tournament and a league co-championship (with BC High). Tommy Sarni and Charlie Wilmot had two goals each with Michael Kelly and Tyee Ambrosh getting a goal and an assist each. Lucas Verrier scored once, Jimmy Ayers had two helpers, Kaden Quirk (six saves) and Teddy Cullivane (one) split the shutout and Sean O’Brian and Christian Rooney were exceptional defensively.

 

SOFTBALL 

Salem Academy 18, Boston Collegiate 8: Sophomore Cindy Shehu got the win on the mound and chipped in a massive home run to left center field to help the Navigators move on in the MCSAO playoffs. Lone senior Emma Lee scored four runs while sophomore Grace Thomas added two hits and three runs scored in the win. Salem Academy will now play in their third straight championship game. 

MINNEOLA — Daniel Marinacci and Keegan Jay Zinn had two hits apiece and combined for three RBIs Thursday to back the three-hit pitching of Parker Fenton in Lake Minneola’s 4-2 win against Real Life Christian Academy. 

The win — the Hawks’ ninth in their last 10 games — was the 500th career victory for Lake Minneola coach Kerry Whetro.

Marinacci broke up a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with a single to right that scored Jo Jo Smiley and Zinn, who had singled to open the inning against Real Life southpaw Max Kurtz. Lake Minneola — which improved to 15-6 — added an insurance run in the fifth when Hunter French on a single to left by Zinn. 

That was more than enough run support for Fenton. The senior lefthander limited the Raptors to only one hit through the first five innings while striking out 10 in that span. 

Lake Minneola pitcher Parker Fenton (39) works during Thursday's game against Real Life Christian Academy in Minneola. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Real Life (11-5) scratched out a run in the sixth with Noah Clymer ripped a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch. The Raptors added their final run in the seventh when Gavin Hawkins scored on a ground out to second.

Lake Minneola pounded out 13 hits against Kurtz, who fell to 5-2 on the season. The Raptors’ senior started strong, limiting the Hawks to two singles through two innings, but the Hawks began to figure him out as the game wore on. 

Fenton, however, was dominant from the start. Despite tiring in the final two innings, Fenton retired 12 in a row, including third out of the second inning and through the first two outs of the sixth.

With the win, Fenton improved to 4-3.

In addition to Marinacci and Zinn, Jesse Johnson and French also had two hits for the Hawks. Each starter in the Lake Minneola offensive lineup — Marinacci was the designated hitter for Fenton — had at least one hit.

For Real Life, freshman Walker Gibson had the Raptors only other hit.

After the game, Whetro was honored for his career accomplishment. He is just the second coach in Lake County history — Leesburg’s legendary coach Buddy Lowe was the first — to achieve his 500th win at one of the county’s public schools.

He was presented with a jersey with the number 500, along with a banner, acknowledging the landmark. 

Whetro accomplished his 500th win in his 30th season as a head coach and 39th as either an assistant or head coach. He is in his third season at Lake Minneola, where has compiled a 39-19 record. 

Next up for Real Life is a road game Tuesday against Winter Park Geneva. The Raptors will then wrap up the regular season Thursday against Leesburg at BIshop Field in Clermont.

Thursday’s win was Lake Minneola’s final home game of the regular season. The Hawks will travel to Orlando Thursday to face First Academy before wrapping up the regular April 23rd at Ocoee.

ANNAPOLIS, Md.  // After hosting the four-team Match Play By the Bay event on Friday at the Naval Academy Golf Club, the Navy golf team returned to its home course on Saturday where it earned a 5-4 victory over Richmond.

“We were honored to have Coach Adam Decker bring his Richmond squad up to Annapolis for a fantastic day of golf with ideal conditions,” said 31st-year Navy head coach Pat Owen. “We had several highlights over the course of the day in what was a terrific way for us to prepare for next week’s Star Match against Army. We will continue to work on our fundamentals throughout the week in anticipation for a great weekend at West Point.”

Richmond grabbed the early lead in the match when rookie Alex Campbell took a 1-up decision over the Mids’ Ben Burton (Jr / Charleston, S.C.).

Navy went on to win the next three matches in three very different ways. Keegan Shreves (So / Potomac, Md.) was 4-under par through 13 holes and his 6 and 5 victory provided the Mids their first point of the day. Michael Brennan (Sr / Locust Valley, N.Y.) birdied the 15th hole to put Andrew McInerney 3 down with 3 holes to play before holding on for a 1 up victory. Will Meshad (So / Atlanta, Ga.) had Navy’s biggest comeback on Saturday, rallying from an early 3-hole deficit to defeat Richmond’s Garrett Clark 2 and 1.

David Miccoli (Jr / Ludlow, Mass.) was down late against Carter Cook, but he leveled the match with a birdie on the 17th hole. Cook, however, went on to win 1 up.

The Mids clinched the team victory with Nicholas Klock (Jr / Moraga, Calif.) and team captain Charlie Musto (Sr / Sterling, Va.) prevailing 3 and 2 in back-to-back matches against Ben Cooper and Michael Baker, respectively.

The Spiders won the final two matches of the day on the 18th with Michael Childress defeating Ward Wilkinson (Sr / Ashland, Va.) and Lou Baker got by Chad Deegan (Jr / Newport Beach, Calif.). The four players traded birdies throughout the competition with both Wilkinson and Deegan going into the 17th tee down 2 holes with 2 to play. Childress and Baker both missed the green, while the Navy pair scored pars to pull within one hole. However, Childress and Baker held steady on the 18th to defeat their counterparts 1 up.

The Midshipmen will play their regular-season finale next weekend when they travel to West Point to face Army in the annual Star Match. The two-day, 36-hole event will be scored as match play, or the more familiar Ryder Cup-style format, with four Four-Ball matches played on Saturday and seven singles matches played on Sunday. The first team to reach six points will be declared the winner.

Navy def. Richmond, 5-4

Alex Campbell def. Ben Burton (N), 1 up
Keegan Shreves (N) def. Will Tamplin, 6 and 5
Michael Brennan (N) def. Andrew McInerney,