Times Union Story Published September 25, 2011

 

COLONIE -- Joe Burke spent much of his week reminding his Christian Brothers Academy football team about the capabilities of Guilderland, and not to underestimate the Dutchmen because of their 1-2 record.

The Brothers finally got the message Saturday afternoon -- only after taking a physical pounding and trailing by 13 points in the fourth quarter.

With a loss staring his team in the face, Burke watched his squad rally to pull within a point with 1:16 left. Then it was decision time for the Brothers: kick the extra point to potentially force overtime or go for a two-point conversion and the lead.

During a timeout, Burke's players voted for one scenario. The call was flanker reverse pass. Cameron Wynn took a pitch from quarterback Ted Cillis and slapped the ball into the belly of wide receiver Peter Luizzi heading right. Luizzi spotted senior wide receiver Torey Williams and calmly arched a shot put-looking toss over the Dutchmen defense for a two-point conversion.

The Brothers survived a last-ditch effort by the Dutchmen to emerge with a thrilling 26-25 Class AA Empire Division victory.

"My teammates make fun of me and say, 'Pete, you stink throwing the ball.' When coach called it, I was thinking, 'Oh no," Luizzi said. "When I came around the line, I saw Torey and we made the connection. I knew he was coming down with it."

"I saw (the defender's) hand go up and thought it might get tipped. It landed right in my chest," Williams said.

"Pete and Torey are two veteran players. Once we called it, I had a really good feeling it was going to get done," Cillis said.

Guilderland was feeling something entirely different than CBA. It was the sting of a second painful loss after building a double-digit lead.

"We're the best 1-3 team in Section II," Guilderland coach Dan Penna lamented.

Luizzi provided the Brothers (4-0, 3-0) the opportunity to go for the victory when he hauled in a pass from Cillis at the 10 and faked out Guilderland's Tim O'Connor to score on a 16-yard touchdown pass. After Burke called a timeout to discuss what to do on the conversion, it didn't take long at all to know CBA was going for the win.

"He knows we have confidence in ourselves, and he has confidence in us," Williams said. "It makes us feel good, knowing we can accomplish anything."

"Pete had a big day catching, and throwing it as softly as he did," Burke said.

"We had to dig down deep to get this one. It is a great feeling to come back like that," Luizzi said.

The Dutchmen (1-3, 1-3) used a perfect run-pass mix in the opening half to outgain CBA 216-60 -- yet only led 19-12 despite scoring on time-consuming drives covering 68, 64 and 73 yards. "They came out today and smacked us right in the mouth. We took a little bit of time to get off of the mat," Burke said. "Fortunately for us, it happened with about four minutes to go."

The second touchdown for the Brothers in the first half came on a 64-yard punt return by Luizzi. It appeared the senior stepped out of bounds near his team's bench at the 50, but the whistle never blew.

"They were busting on me when I came back to the sidelines, saying, 'I think your foot was out of bounds.' I said, 'I don't care. If the refs didn't see it, I went to the end zone," Luizzi said.

CBA trailed 25-12 early in the fourth quarter when the Dutchmen had a 12-play drive stall out at midfield. After a punt, the Brothers needed just six plays to drive 82 yards, with Wynn capping the march on a 10-yard touchdown run with 6:25 left.

Guilderland successfully recovered an onsides kick by CBA and failed to gain a first down. Lining up to punt from the Brothers' 48, Guilderland instead attempted a pass that fell incomplete.

CBA required eight plays to reach the end zone again, including a 10-yard pass to Luizzi, a 15-yard scramble by Cillis and a 10-yard reception by Cody Zappone.

"We only had one more chance or we were going to be 3-1. We didn't want that," Cillis said.



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