December 05, 2011
It wasn't exactly a Hail Mary, but a last-second pass at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Saturday still might have accounted for one of the best finishes of the 2011 playoff season.
With two seconds remaining in the 2011 season -- and the 50-year coaching career of North Bergen (N.J.) High coach Vincent Ascolese -- North Bergen quarterback Sergio Rodriguez completed a 22-yard prayer of a pass to wide receiver Debray Tavarez, who somehow brought in the ball with no time remaining to tie the game 13-13. You can see the play as it unfolds below.
That Tavarez was able to bring in the catch is something of a minor miracle. The junior was literally triple covered, and as the Newark Star-Ledger points out, two of those defenders were so far on top of him that you could hardly see any of the white or maroon of his jersey.
Yet, somehow, Tavarez was the man who came out with the ball, and a subsequent extra point gave North Bergen, which entered the game with an 7-4 record, a truly shocking 14-13 win against previously undefeated Montclair (N.J.) High in the Section 1, Group 4 state title game.
"I saw that ball and first thing on my mind is I'm getting that ball," Tavarez told the Star-Ledger. "I don't care if there was 11 guys there. I was getting that ball."
Afterward, both Ascolese and his grandson, Vin Ascolese, who is a star linebacker and fullback for North Bergen, were emotional after watching Tavarez's stunning last-second catch.
"We did it, we did it, the kids are unbelievable," Vincent Ascolese told the Star-Ledger. "We beat a great team, the world thought they would beat us and we won the football game. We talked about it all week, to keep working at it and we did it. This beats anything I have ever did in 50 years."
The moment may have been even more special for the younger Ascolese.
"I told my grandpa when I was a little boy, I was going to win him a championship," said the younger Ascolese, who is regarded as one of the finest linebackers in the state. "Everybody thought we were going to get blown out. That was the biggest motivation in the world and to go out and win it, I just can't believe it."
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