In a back and forth match between two Jesuit schools in New York City, a penalty kick by reserve Liam Gresser in the final minute of the second half gave Xavier High School a 27-24 win over long time rival Fordham Prep.
Xavier went into halftime with what appeared to be an insurmountable 19-0 lead, but Fordham battled back, leveling the scores with a converted try in the 32nd minute of the second half. An infraction in front of their own posts in the game’s 35th and final moment would, however, seal Fordham’s fate as a penalty kick by Xavier reserve Liam Gresser gave the visitors a 27-24 victory.
Four different players scored tries for Xavier, while Sullivan and Brown scored two tries apiece for Fordham.
It would be an understatement to say that the rivalry between the two Jesuit high schools is long term, as each was founded more than 160 years ago (Fordham – 1841, Xavier - 1847). And while Xavier took the lead in bringing rugby to the forefront on their respective campuses, Fordham’s comeback in this match obviously demonstrates that they have caught up.
After missing an earlier penalty kick, Xavier broke the ice in the sixth minute when prop Kevin Fitzpatrick scored from a lineout at Fordham’s five and Owen McVeigh converted, 7-0.
An unconverted try by center Brian Alvarado, following a set piece ten meters from Fordham’s line, extended Xavier’s lead to 12-0 in the 20th minute.
After Fordham missed a penalty kick in the 24th minute, Xavier #8 Dylan Evans crossed for a try in the 28th that McVeigh converted, giving the visitors what appeared to be an insurmountable 19-0 halftime lead.
Fordham, however, had other ideas. And the Bronx school’s comeback began one minute into the second half when fullback Ryan Sullivan scored the first of his two tries at the conclusion of a 30 meter movement, 19-5.
Fordham closed the gap to 19-12 in the 9th minute when prop Raaziq Brown touched down following a scrum 22 meters from Xavier’s line and scrumhalf Pete O’Brien converted.
Xavier fullback Will Collins gave the visitors some breathing room in the 13th minute when he scored an unconverted, second phase try on an attack from Fordham’s ten, 24-12 Xavier.
Longtime rival Fordham, however, was not ready to succumb, as fullback Ryan Sullivan touched down his second try in the corner, narrowing Xavier’s lead to 24-17 as the 29th minute ticked by.
Fordham prop Raaziq Brown scored his second try, following an interception and 30-meter return. Flyhalf Charlie Sullivan’s crucial conversion tied the game between the two Jesuit schools, 24-24, with just three minutes to play.
An infraction in front of their own posts in the closing minute would, however, stifle Fordham’s noble comeback, as Liam Gresser’s penalty goal gave Xavier the 27-24 win.
Tries: Fitzpatrick, Alvarado, Evans, Collins
Convs: McVeigh 2
Pens: Gresser P
Tries: Sullivan 2, Brown 2
Convs: Sullivan, O’Brien