By Jean DePlacido
---- — DORCHESTER — Fumbles played a big part in determining the outcome of a key Catholic Conference matchup last night between St. John’s Prep and BC High.
The Prep fumbled the ball away four times, resulting in a 13-7 loss on the road. It could prove costly to St. John’s Prep’s hopes of making the Division 1 North state playoffs.
Missing three key senior offensive linemen who missed the game due to school disclipinary reasons, the visiting Eagles could never click offensively in falling to 4-3 on the season.
“Ball security; you can’t turn the ball over that many times on the road and expect to win,” said Prep coach Jim O’Leary, his team now 2-1 in the league.
“I can’t comment on the players who were missing, but we played with the kids who were here tonight.”
Juniors Neal Farmer and Dan Dewing, along with sophomore James Carnevale, earned starting nods on the offensive line for St. John’s in place of their suspended teammates.
Freshman cornerback Joe Masterson, who was filling in for Matt Kirpas (out with pneumonia) intercepted a pass from B.C. High’s Sean Holleran to set up the Prep touchdown. Quarterback Mike Geaslen scored from a yard out to cap a 40-yard drive.
At halftime the Prep had a 7-0 lead, but were shut out in the second half while B.C. High scored twice, including a touchdown in the final seconds of the game to win.
The first touchdown came after the Prep fumbled and B.C. High recovered near midfield. Holleran, the B.C. High quarterback, took it in himself from a yard out and Jack O’Brien kicked the extra point to tie it up with just under three minutes left in the third quarter.
B.C. High had a huge advantage in time of possession and got its ground game going in the second half. The tired Prep defense, which was on the field most of the second half, couldn’t stop the run.
St. John’s could only muster two first downs after intermission and fumbled the ball away three times.
The hosts drove 66 yards on seven plays, with Mitch LaFerriere barreling in from 6 yards out. St. John’s blocked the extra point kick, but with 46 seconds remaining in the game trailed for the first time, 13-7.
Geaslen, who was 10-for-15 for 100 yards, completed a 10-yard pass to Logan Mahoney at the right sideline. The hook-and-ladder play to Cody Harwood was fumbled, and once again B.C. High recovered.
“We were going to open up with that play, but didn’t,” said O’Leary. “If Cody had hung onto the ball, there was no one there. It was wide open for him. We just can’t have that many fumbles; ball security is so important.
“Once again Geaslen did a nice job. He has been consistent all year with 68 percent completions. He leads the team well and makes good choices. Mahoney had an excellent game (3 catches for 35 yards) and Masterson made a nice play on that interception to set up our touchdown.”
St. John’s is off next week and will have to wait to see how other teams in Division 1 do to see if they can make the playoffs.
“This was a big game for us because we wanted an automatic bid,” said O’Leary. Now we have to wait to see how things shape up.”