NEWPORT NEWS, VA. – The Apprentice School held a high-octane Catholic University offense to nearly half of its season average, but a James Fucillo 40-yard interception return for the visitors with 2:07 left enabled the Cardinals to escape Newport News with a 24-15 decision on Saturday.
Catholic entered the game averaging over32 points, 414 yards of offense and 345 yards passing but was kept to 24 points, 266 yards of offense and 183 passing by a swarming Builder defense that rose to a serious challenge on Saturday.
"The defense played great, offensively we got a good rhythm going and made it exciting," said Apprentice School Head Coach Michael Vite. "We made a couple mistakes that against a high-powered team like Catholic you cannot make."
Apprentice School opened the scoring quickly as on the second play of the game, junior Chris Virgin broke around left end and took off on a 69-yard scoring run just 69 seconds into the contest. That was the fourth-longest run from scrimmage by a Builder in the last 25 years and the longest since Reggie George scored on a 67-yard run against Salisbury on October 3, 2009.
The Builder defense made a pair of fourth down stops in the first half holding Catholic on its first possession of the game on downs at the Builder 28. To start the second quarter, the Cardinals took possession on their 39 and drove down to the Builder two before a fourth down run was stopped.
Catholic put together one lengthy scoring drive to close out the first half as they marched 80 yards on 11 plays as Greg Cordivari connected with Tanner Keefe on a four-yard scoring pass with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 7-all.
In the second half the Cardinals took advantage of a short field on the opening kickoff driving down to the Builder six before settling for a 23-yard Brian Gongaware field goal with 12:04 left to lead 10-7. An interception and a personal foul penalty brought Catholic down to the Builder 13 for its next possession and Cordivari capped that with a one-yard plunge on fourth down to take a 17-7 lead with 5:47 left.
Apprentice School pinned Catholic inside its five and recorded a safety as Johnathan Jones blocked a punt that rolled out of the end zone to cut the deficit to 17-9 with 3:25 left.
In the fourth, the Builders put together a seven-play, 44-yard scoring drive as Paul Morgan scored on a seven-yard run with 12:49 left. Virgin set up the scoring run as he broke loose on a 27-yard scamper down to the Cardinal 25. The extra-point run was stopped to give Catholic a 17-15 lead. On the game, Virgin ended with 115 yards on nine carries for his second straight 100-yard effort.
The Builders put one last drive together but Fucillo caught a tipped pass and returned it 40 yards with 2:07 left to seal the 24-15 decision.
Morgan ran for 76 yards and threw for 64 for the Builders who gained 228 yards of offense. Brock Bullock topped the defense with 11 tackles, while Jones had 10 solo tackles, an interception and the blocked punt.
Catholic was topped on rushing offense by Nick Cortese who ran for 77 yards and Cordivari was 30-of-39 for 183 yards, one interception and one touchdown.
Apprentice School returns to the home field on October 22 when they host in-state rival Southern Virginia University in a 1 pm kickoff.