BG starts strong, fades at Salem

SALEM – Bishop Guertin coach Travis Cote said he wanted to see a little more passion out of his team in their game against Salem High this week.

He certainly got that from his Cardinals, especially in a dominating first drive, an early goal line stand, and in a game-closing touchdown drive, but the results weren’t there in between those bookends as Guertin fell 34-16 to the now 5-1 Blue Devils.

That initial drive, a 12-play march featuring five first downs, culminated in a 3-yard Chase Hughes touchdown. Quarterback Kyle Cushion ran for the conversion and had the visitors up 8-0 and feeling good.

Emotionally, things got even better for the Cardinals on defense when Salem responded with a long drive of its own. With the ball on its own 2-yard line, the Bishop Guertin defense stiffened and snuffed out three chances for Salem, turning them over on downs and getting a highly passionate reaction out of the Cardinal defense.

Disaster struck, however, when the Cardinals then fumbled the ball back to Salem on their 2-yard line. This time they were unable to repulse the Blue Devils and Charles Sibanda scored immediately.

It would be a theme throughout the night for Bishop Guertin (1-5), with a positive play almost immediately eradicated by a negative play. Cushion gave the Cardinals a short field to work with minutes later after intercepting Salem’s John Cerretani, but the offense went backwards on a momentum-killing three-and-out.

Later in the game, with the Cardinals down 20-8, a fumble recovery by Brandon Levesque could have led to a Guertin comeback, but another turnover two plays later killed that.

“We felt really good, and we had some energy,” said Cote, “but four turnovers will kill you.”

Salem was buoyed by the running of fullback Johnny Bartose, who only scored one touchdown but lugged the ball 23 times for 166 yards, mostly up the middle. Sibanda would finish with two touchdowns while Cerretani threw for a touchdown to Austin Homsey and Nick Shumski would score a late touchdown for the Blue Devils.

Kenny Calabrese had a J.J. Watt-like “I can do anything” game for the hosts, leading both teams in receiving yards but also passing to Cerretani for a first-down on a gadget play and intercepting Cushion to end the first half.

Late in the game, Cushion was shifted from quarterback to running back and had 38 yards rushing during a drive that was capped off with his 3-yard touchdown run.