For the first time in two years, the St. Joseph High School football team walked off the field in defeat.
Rival St. Augustine Prep beat St. Joseph 33-14 on Sept. 11 in Richland to snap the Wildcats’ 21-game winning streak. It was the season-opening game for both teams.
It was the Wildcats’ first loss since Sept. 20, 2013 when they fell to Holy Spirit. In between the two losses, the Wildcats captured two state titles and were considered one of the top teams in South Jersey.
However, considering all the turnover in its starting lineups, St. Joseph, which returned four starters, probably couldn’t have asked for a more difficult opponent to start the season.
Behind a staunch defense, and the play of quarterback Jose Tabora and running back Kyle Dobbins, the Hermits not only toppled the Wildcats, but also lifted themselves to favorite status in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference.
Tabora threw for two touchdowns and scored another on the ground, and Dobbins rushed for two scores.
St. Joseph was limited to one offensive touchdown, as A’Laam Horne hauled in a 73-yard touchdown pass down the right sidelines from brother Salaam Horne in the second quarter.
The Wildcats’ only other points came on A’Laam Horne’s 75-yard kickoff return that gave St. Joseph its only lead of the night at 7-6 in the first quarter. The Hermits ended the opening quarter with two touchdown runs, and never looked back.
St. Joseph struggled mightily on the ground, finishing the game with just 23 yards on 31 attempts. A’Laam Horne was the team’s biggest weapon offensively, rushing for 32 yards on 10 carries while also hauling in four passes for 94 yards.
“Our defense played well,” St. Augustine coach Mark Reardon said. “The Horne brothers are a nightmare, they just are. You just have to try to contain them the best you can. For us defensively it’s a product of changing calls and not doing the same thing all the time.”
St. Joseph will travel to Galloway for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 18 to take on Absegami. The Braves are coming off a 31-26 victory over Ocean City.
Correspondent Vincent DeBlasio contributed to this report.