Every team that wins a championship, regardless of the sport, survives an early-round scare.
That’s what the Chaminade football team hopes happened Saturday afternoon when the second-seeded Flyers edged No. 7 St. Joseph by the Sea, 21-20, in the CHSFL Class AAA quarterfinals in Mineola.
Chaminade (9-1) jumped in front, 7-6, on a 40-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Sean Cerrone in the first quarter and the score remained that way until Rob Speranza raced up the middle for a 59-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
St. Joseph by the Sea (4-6) responded with a Ryan Minlionica 5-yard touchdown run with 8:02 left. But the Vikings were stuffed just short of the tying 2-point conversion, which would loom large.
Cerrone responded by taking a fake handoff 50 yards for a touchdown that put the Flyers in front, 21-12, with 6:14 left.
The Vikings wouldn’t go away, though, and Minlionica’s second touchdown – a 6-yard score – pulled them within 21-20 with 25 seconds remaining.
Thomas O’Connell, though, recovered the onside kick for Chaminade, which captured the CHSFL Class AAA title a year ago.
The Flyers advance to the semifinals to take on No. 6 Holy Cross, which beat archrival St. Francis Prep, 20-13, in another quarterfinal Saturday night at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
Chaminade defeated Holy Cross, 3-0, at home in Week 7 with John Curylo’s fourth-quarter field goal the difference.
The winner of the semifinal between Chaminade and Holy Cross will meet either top-seeded St. Anthony’s or No. 4 Archbishop Stepinac in the title game.
West Hempstead 34, Mineola 6: Enrique McFarlane rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns and also had a receiving TD to lead third-seeded West Hempstead to a 34-6 win over No. 6 Mineola in a Nassau Conference IV quarterfinal Saturday afternoon.
Bruce Gibbs also rushed for 93 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Vinny Messina led the defensive charge for West Hempstead (7-2) with eight tackles.
James Gerstner had a 6-yard touchdown run for Mineola (4-5) in the fourth quarter.
West Hempstead advances to the semifinals to take on No. 2 Seaford in the Conference IV semifinals at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium Thursday.