|VIDEO: DePaul holds on, barely, to avoid Immaculata upset bid|
After the opening 15 minutes of its football state semifinal, DePaul was well on its way to the expected big win over Immaculata. What transpired next was hard to believe, and for DePaul, surely seemed like a nightmare.
Fortunately for DePaul, it woke up just in time to hold on for a bizarre 34-33 overtime triumph. After DePaul scored first in overtime, Immaculata answered back, but its two-point conversion attempt to win the game fell incomplete as the receiver appeared to slip trying to adjust to the ball.
Early on, there appeared to be no chance of such a finish. DePaul scored four quick touchdowns to build a 27-0 lead, and was driving towards another score. But a high shotgun snap led to a turnover, which began a freakish series of DePaul miscues. In all, DePaul turned the ball over seven times in the game, with Immaculata scoring all of its points off turnovers.
The visitors tied the game 27-27 in the third quarter, then had a chance to win it in the final seconds. But a 41-yard field goal try came up a few yards short, pushing the game to overtime.
Kareem Walker ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns for DePaul, including the overtime score for the home team Spartans. Terrell Vassell had two receptions for 102 yards and a score.
Immaculata quarterback John Phelan had a big game, going 21-for-39 for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Paul Rasimowicz caught three passes for 139 yards and two scores, while Ibn Bailey had six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Immaculata, which struggled all season, came into the states as the sixth seed. Also known as the Spartans, Immaculata finishes its season at 3-8.
Second seed DePaul is now 7-4. The Spartans will play in the Non-Public Group II state semifinals against fourth seed Holy Spirit, which upset top seed Holy Cross in the other semifinal. It will be a rematch of last year's final, won by DePaul.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school football state playoff game, click play in the box at left.