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Birmingham, Warren

Published September 22, 2013

Brother Rice gets touchdown on final play, tops De La Salle in classic Catholic League clash

» click to enlarge «
Rice quarterback Alex Malzone (12) tries to escape pressure during the first half of the Sept. 21 game against De La Salle. Malzone hit Jason Alessi on a 34-yard pass to give Rice s 26-24 victory on the final play of the game.

BERKLEY — In all his years battling in the Catholic League, Brother Rice football coach Al Fracassa has said a prayer or two for his team and his guys.

On Saturday night, he had one answered.

“How else do you even explain it?” Fracassa said with a laugh about the Warriors’ 26-24 victory against Warren De La Salle at Hurley Field in Berkley. The winning touchdown came on a Hail Mary pass as time expired. “As many games as I’ve won, I don’t think any have come like that. I mean, it happens in football, but it hadn’t happened to me. … It’s a win you’ll remember you’re whole life.

De La Salle led most of the game, jumping out to a 14-0 advantage early in the second quarter after a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Giovanni Rescigno.

Jason Alessi got Rice on the board with a 37-yard field goal with 8:02 remaining in the first half, and Shon Powell scored on a 21-yard run for Rice to make it 14-10, but De La Salle kicker Nate Normstrom nailed a 29-yard field goal as the first half expired to give the Pilots a 17-10 advantage.

Alessi hit a 28-yard field for the only score of the third quarter, but the fourth frame was one few will forget.

Trailing 17-13, Rice took the lead on 12-yard score by Powell with 4:15 remaining in regulation.

De La Salle retook the lead by a 24-20 count with just 25 seconds remaining when Brent Morris caught an 8-yard pass from Rescigno.

Rice had one final chance to drive the field, but with two seconds remaining, quarterback Alex Malzone lost the ball on a pass attempt and De La Salle players rushed the field after recovering the fumble, thinking the game was over.

The officials ruled the play an incomplete pass, however, and on the next snap, Malzone hit Alessi with a 34-yard pass with no time remaining in regulation.

“It was a sack. No question about it,” De La Salle coach Paul Verska said about the play before the touchdown. “It was the wrong call, but this was a great game. I thought our kids played so hard and gave themselves a chance to win.”

“When you look at the stats, they seemed to beat us in every category,” Fracassa said. “But we just hung in there and tried to make a game out of it. We knew what we had to do. It was a matter of just coming back a little at a time.”

Rescigno finished the game with 198 yards passing, while Jared Wangler had six catches for 95 yards. Morris hauled in seven passes for 83 yards. Rescigno also led the rushing attack for De La Salle with 107 yards on 22 carries.

Malzone threw for 200 yards for Rice, with a touchdown and an interception.

Corey Lacanaria had eight catches for 98 yards, while Powell finished with 62 yards rushing on 16 attempts.

“There’s been some close games in my past that we’ve won, but this one is right up there, no doubt about it,” Fracassa said.

Rice,4-0 overall and 1-0 in Central Division play, takes on Novi Detroit Catholic Central Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. on the road.

“We’ve talked before about life not being fair, and we have more games to play,” Verska said of his De La Salle squad, which is now 2-2 and travels to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Sept. 27. “It’s on us to prove we are a team that can handle adversity and make the most out of it.”


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