Catapano led Southern to 65-yard touchdown drive
Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer
An unlikely hero in Raymond Catapano led SCSU football over American International College by a score of 21-20 Friday night at Jess Dow Field.
Starting quarterback Robert Nittolo injured his right pinky in the second quarter. Nittolo threw three interceptions after that injury and was taken out of the game with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Catapano replaced Nittolo when the Owls were down 20-14, and went on to lead the team for a game winning 65-yard touchdown drive.
“I was a little nervous at first, but once I got into the swing of things everything settled down,” Catapano said.
The Owls offense needed some settling down, as they turned the ball over a season-high five times. However, Southern was not the only team turning the ball over on Friday night.
Defensive back Justin Potts picked off AIC quarterback Joseph Czelusniak three times. Potts’ third interception came when AIC was trying to come back down 21-20 with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter. After a while Potts was surprised that the ball kept coming his way.
“I kept telling them to stop throwing at me,” Potts said.
But apparently AIC did not get the message to stop throwing the ball in Potts’ direction. Not only that, but AIC also didn’t get the message that the Owls like to go to Devante Jenkins in clutch situations.
Just a couple weeks off of catching the game-winning touchdown against Stonehill College, Jenkins caught the game-winning 19-yard touchdown pass from Catapano with three minutes to play in the game.
Jenkins wanted to give his quarterback all the credit for the play.
“Ray made a great throw,” said Jenkins. “He’s the ultimate leader and an ultimate team player. I got high regards for him. He’s just a great guy, his personality shows it on the field.”
Jenkins finished the night with four receptions for 66 yards. On the game-winning 19-yard touchdown, Jenkins said that AIC was playing cover four. Jenkins was able to find the soft spot in the zone, and Catapano threw it right to him on the 10-yard line, juking two to three defenders on his way to the end zone.
Last week at Assumption, Jenkins only had two receptions for 13 yards. Head coach Tom Godek thought poor performance from last week brought the best out of his star wide receiver this week.
“Devante was steaming all week from last week,” said Godek. “He was very angry and he certainly had some big plays for us tonight when we needed them the most.”
Even though Nittolo did not get to throw the game-winning touchdown to Jenkins like he did against Stonehill, he was still fully supportive of Catapano when he entered the game.
“Rob was just keeping me up and giving me pointers,” said Catapano. “He knows what it’s like to be out there so he helped me out tremendously.”
Catapano got a lot of praise from various teammates for the way he played down the stretch. Potts was impressed with the way Catapano handled the situation he was put in.
“I’m a Catapano fan,” said Potts. “I keep telling everyone to put Ray in. He makes plays and is a baller.”
When Godek was asked if Nittolo was removed due to performance or injury he didn’t have a clear answer.
“I think it’s just a little bit of both,” said Godek. “We have a lot of weapons and team guys. Everyone does a little something different sometimes.”
Southern football now sits at a 2-2 record. The Owls next time to storm the field will be an away game against cross-city rivals University of New Haven on Oct. 1.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications