WARWICK – Bishop Hendricken senior kicker Chris Surgento has hit some big field goals in his life, but none of them were bigger than the 30-yard kick he split between the uprights last night with 9:19 remaining in the Hawks Division I semifinal game against La Salle.
The field goal gave Bishop Hendricken a 9-7 lead and the Hawks defense did the rest, forcing a three-and-out on La Salle’s ensuing possession and then intercepting two passes on the Rams final two drives as Hendricken survived La Salle, 9-7, to advance to the Division I Super Bowl.
“It was just another kick,” Surgento said of what he was thinking just before he hit the game-winning field goal and his third field goal of the game. “It was nothing big. It was just another kick in the game. I didn’t feel any pressure. I was warmed-up. I was ready.”
His teammates weren’t surprised he hit the field goal.
“He works hard every single day in practice, kicking every single day, and he came up huge today,” Bishop Hendricken quarterback Thomas Verdi said. “He won the game for us. He’s a pressure player.”
It was because of Verdi, a sophomore quarterback who was thrust into just his second starting role because Hendricken senior QB Anthony Ferreira broke his ankle earlier this season, that Surgento was able to be the hero. After struggling against a fired-up La Salle defense that limited Hendricken’s offense – the best in Division I (31 points per game) – to just 62 first-half yards, Hendricken coach Keith Croft decided to put the ball in Verdi’s hands. He asked the sophomore to get the Hawks in position to win the game and he did.
“I had butterflies before the game but after the first initial hit, I got out of it and played like I know how to play,” Verdi said. “Taking [Ferreira’s’] spot is tough but I did what I could do.”
Trailing 7-3 at halftime, Verdi completed 8-of-11 passes for 107 yards in the second half to guide the Hendricken comeback.
“I was pumped up going into the second half,” Verdi said. “I knew what I had to do and got the job done.”
“He did a great job coming in in his first big game,” Surgento said of Verdi.
On their first possession of the second half, the Hawks marched 71 yards down the field and cut La Salle’s lead to 7-6 on a 26-yard Surgento field goal.
Hendricken’s defense forced a turnover on the Rams second play of their ensuing drive, which set up Surgento’s game-winning field goal.
“The defense did a great job tonight,” Surgento said.
Hendricken’s defense forced six turnovers in all, countering a huge effort by Rams running back Kendall Perry, who finished with 154 rushing yards.
“That’s a great football team we beat,” Surgento said. “They have a great defense, a great offense. It was tough but everyone played well and I got the opportunities to kick the field goals.”
La Salle fullback Neal Rooney scored on a three yard touchdown run on the Rams opening drive of the game, but Hendricken’s defense kept La Salle out of the end zone the rest of the way.
Hendricken will play St. Raphael Academy in Saturday’s Super Bowl at 1 p.m. at Pierce Field.
“We worked so hard all season for this,” Verdi said. “It paid off. We played an unbelievable game. We’re so psyched to be going to the Super Bowl.”