Football: Playing in a downpour, Mercy falls to John Glenn

McGann-Mercy quarterback KJ Santacroce lets go a pass as running back Reggie Archer blocks in front. (Credit: Bill Landon)
McGann-Mercy quarterback KJ Santacroce lets go a pass as running back Reggie Archer blocks in front. (Credit: Bill Landon)


No more than a handful of plays into Saturday afternoon’s game, the pristine white road uniforms of McGann-Mercy High School were stained muddy brown.

The pounding rain, accompanied by gusts of wind, made for one sloppy day for football at John Glenn High School. 

When the conditions are as poor as they were Saturday, it often favors the underdog. Adding an X-factor like slippery conditions can create unforeseen problems for the favorite, allowing an underdog to stick around.

The Monarchs, the underdogs against the Knights, benefitted early in the mess of a field. On the opening kickoff, the Knights’ returner fumbled the ball, recovering just in time to be tackled at his own 9-yard line. Later in the half the Knights turned the ball over on a fumble, setting up Mercy with great field position.

But the Knights were the preseason No. 1 seed in Division IV for a reason. And poor weather alone wouldn’t be enough to slow down their offensive attack against Mercy.

The Knights took control of the game midway through the second quarter, scoring three unanswered touchdowns before halftime to take a 34-13 lead into the locker room. An abbreviated second half went much the same way, as the Knights dropped Mercy 48-13 on the final day of regular season.

The Monarchs were surprisingly sharp through the first quarter and a half on offense behind quarterback KJ Santacroce. The Monarchs were driving into Glenn territory in the second quarter, on the door of scoring a touchdown that could have tied the game at 20.

But the 8-play drive stalled at the Glenn 10-yard line, when a pass over from the middle from Santacroce was knocked down incomplete on fourth down. It was the turning point of the game.

Instead of tying the game, the Monarchs saw the Knights come right back and score a touchdown the other way to push the deficit to 27-13. Another touchdown on the Knights next possession put the game out of reach at 34-13.

Big plays were the culprit for the Mercy defense. The Monarchs allowed touchdown runs of 83 yards, 41 yards, 60 yards and 76 yards — all in the first half.

Glenn took a 7-0 lead on its first drive from an 83-yard run from halfback T.J. Tiernan. The Monarchs answered later in the quarter when Santacroce scored from a yard out on a QB keeper. Santacroce later connected with Jack Pavelchak for a 34-yard touchdown play. Pavelchak caught a pass in the right flat and turned it up field for the score. A missed extra point kept John Glenn in the lead at 14-13.

It was mostly downhill for Mercy after that.

The Monarchs close out the regular season 4-4, with losses against each of the top four teams in the division — Shoreham-Wading River, Glenn, Bayport-Blue Point and Babylon. Now the Monarchs will wait to see where they line up in the playoffs and which one of those four teams they’ll face next weekend.

The Knights (7-1) will finish as the No. 2 seed behind unbeaten Shoreham.

For the Knights, Saturday was their first game in two weeks. Their game last week against Greenport was canceled after the Porters couldn’t field enough healthy players. The Knights got a forfeit win.

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