The big moment stared Joe Jamison in the face again.
Once again, the junior didn't blink – instead rising to the occasion in another big game and enabling the Canisius Crusaders to do something they've never done before in their football history.
Beat rival St. Joe's eight times in a row.
Canisius secured a triumph for the books Friday night at New Era Field as it scored points in bunches during a 55-16 victory in primetime.
An estimated crowd of more than 4,000, several of whom showed up early in balmy conditions to tailgate in the parking lots outside the home of the Buffalo Bills, watched the News' No. 2-ranked large school score the game's first 35 points and never really let its foot off the gas until the outcome of the 88th meeting between the longtime foes was all but settled.
Jamison played a big role in that on both sides of the ball as the defending state Catholic champion Crusaders improved to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association. Jamison scored three times rushing the ball in place of injured starter Kenyatta Huston and also forced a turnover that thwarted a potential scoring march by the Marauders (2-2) during the game's first offensive series.
He came into contest with just 10 carries but matched that by the end of the day – finishing with 83 yards. He also forced his fourth fumble of the season, which was recovered by Dan Harig.
"I want to thank my coaches and teammates for pushing us so hard to get the job done," said Jamison, who scored on runs of 1, 36 and 10 yards. "I feel good about the job I did today but I couldn't have done it without my teammates or line blocking for me."
"I thought Joe Jamison was fantastic tonight," Canisius coach Rich Robbins said. "It was terrible losing Kenyatta, he's a special player. Hopefully we can get him back. But we are blessed to have another good couple running backs. … Joe Jamison ran hard and did everything we needed him to do. Dan Harig and Joel Nicholas came in. … We still should be able to execute with Kenyatta out."
Injuries were a part of this one with Huston leaving early with a potential collarbone injury. St. Joe's, which came in missing several starters, lost four more during the course of the game – including senior linebacker/running back Garrett House in the first quarter and star quarterback Casey Kelly to an undisclosed injury in the third quarter.
Canisius senior Paul Woods wasn't expected to play due to an ankle injury but did more than just suit up. He too made an impact as the Rutgers commit helped open the flood gates, catching a short pass and turning on the jets for a 35-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
"It's a big time game, we prepared too long for this," said Woods, who sat out last week's win over Bishop Timon-St. Jude. "It was a wonderful experience."
John Minogue set up Canisius' next score, picking off a Kelly pass at St. Joe's 36. Two plays later, Jamison banged it in from the 1 after a 35-yard pass play from Jayce Johnson (7 for 12, 162 yards, two touchdowns) to R.J. Brandon (two catches, 87 yards).
Jamison scored on Canisius' next series on a 36-yard run.
The Marauders committed three turnovers in the first half which led to 14 points by the Crusaders. Benjamin Schoenle recovered a fumble at the St. Joe's 45 to set up Canisius' final TD of the second quarter – a 1-yard run by Johnson during a drive in which he completed a 16-yard pass to Woods on fourth-and-5 and an 11-yard pass to Tristian Vandeberg on third-and-goal from the 12.
"You lose guys and you don't come into the game with guys (that usually play), it kind of leads to turnovers," Marauders coach Derek Landri said.
When James Desiderio scooped up a fumble and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown with 7:38 left in the third quarter, that made the score 48-8 – putting Canisius in position to possibly match its record for largest margin of victory over St. Joe's (40-0 in 1975).
It looked like a possibility when Harig earned a reward for keeping his feet moving and scored on 38-yard run in the fourth quarter even when seemingly corralled by three St. Joe's players to make it 55-8.
Ronald McCarley's touchdown with 1:27 left and a two-point conversion pass to Nicolas Julian kept Canisius from that mark. The Crusaders also came up short in matching their own record for most points (58) in a game against the Marauders.
St. Joe's still leads the all-time series 47-38-3 and holds the series record for consecutive wins (17 from 1983-1998), but the Crusaders are more than happy to leave "The Cap" having done something they've never done before against the Marauders.
Most importantly, they left with bragging rights again.
"It's a lot of hard work by our coaches and a lot of great players over the last five or six years," Robbins said. "Anytime you can beat your rival and a good football program like St. Joe's eight times in a row it's special."