BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - The St. Augustine Prep football team could have given up on this season after losing its first five games.
But the seniors wouldn't let that happen.
St. Augustine (4-6) won three of its last four, including a 42-13 victory over visiting Buena Regional on Wednesday in the annual rivalry game.
"These guys could have just packed it in," St. Augustine coach Dennis Scuderi Sr. said. "But you have to give credit to the seniors. They worked hard and showed the younger guys how to fight during a season."
Buena (3-7) leads the series 12-8, but St. Augustine has won four straight and holds a 7-3 edge since 2001.
The Hermits looked markedly improved throughout the season as the young team gained more experience.
But their leaders were the key against Buena.
Senior fullback Kris Raso scored two touchdowns.
"We always fight hard against them," Raso said. "Putting 42 points on the board and winning by that margin feels great. We didn't want it to be a close game. We wanted to blow them out and finish the season like that."
Junior John Barillo also scored twice and ran for 120 yards on 13 carries. He finished the season with 968 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"It would have been a big accomplishment," Barillo said of reaching 1,000 yards. "It was a great season, but I was only thinking about getting a win for the team."
St. Augustine broke open the game when junior Regan O'Connor intercepted a pass in the third quarter. O'Connor ran back the interception for 30 yards to make it 28-14 with 2 minutes, 19 left in the third.
Buena likes to throw the ball more than most high school football teams. The Chiefs even went through a stretch in the first half when they threw on 11 consecutive plays.
Buena quarterback Sawyer Brown completed 12-of-30 passes and was intercepted just once, but many of the Hermits were able to their hands on the ball to deflect passes.
"The season started really bad, but no one gave up on the team," said Raso, who finished with 71 yards on 10 carries. "Before the game, we said we wanted to force a lot of turnovers and get in their end of the field. We were successful with that."
In the fourth quarter, the Hermits put the game away when junior Dan Deal recovered a fumble and returned it 3 yards for touchdown to make it 35-13.
St. Augustine freshman quarterback Joe Gatto stood on the sideline for most of the second quarter as the Hermits ran the ball out of the Wildcat formation.
Barillo took the snaps, showing off new plays in St. Augustine's book.
"It was something we added two weeks ago," Scuderi said. "It adds a new wrinkle to what we already do."
Barillo took a direct snap after being pinned inside St. Augustine's 10-yard line. He shook off two defenders, dodged another two and took the ball 93 yards for a touchdown with 5:30 to go before halftime to give the Hermits a 14-7 lead.
Buena took a 7-0 lead with a methodical drive, mixing the pass with the run. The Chiefs ran the ball seven times on the 13-play drive, but they found the most success when Brown threw the ball.
Brown connected with R.J. May for a 50-yard pass and hit him later in the drive with a 9-yarder.
Senior Donetae McKinnon finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Buena scored its second touchdown on a 1-yard pass from Brown to Tyler Parent, but a missed extra point kept the Chiefs down 14-13.
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
Buena Regional 7 6 0 0-13
St. Augustine Prep 7 7 14 14-42
BR-McKinnon 3 run (Brown kick)
SA-Raso 7 run (Gough kick)
SA-Barillo 93 run (Gough kick)
BR-Parent 1 pass from Brown (Kick failed)
SA-Raso 10 run (Gough kick)
SA-O'Connor 30 interception (Gough kick)
SA-Deal 3 fumble recovery (Gough kick)
SA-Barillo 1 run (Gough kick)
TEAM STATISTICS BR SA
First sowns 8 7
Rushing 20 214
Passing 132 10
Turnovers 2 1
Rushing-Buena, McKinnon 8-10, Haywood 7-31, Brown 5-(-30), Austin 2-9. St. Augustine, Raso 10-71, Barillo 13-120, Gatto 3-5, Cass 2-(-4), Gerald 1-22.
Receiving-Buena, May 4-82, Parent 3-35, Haygood 3-12, Ward 2-3. St. Augustine, Barillo 3-10.
Passing-Buena, Brown: 12-30-1-132. St. Augustine, Gatto 3-6-1-10, Barillo 0-1-0-0.
Records-St. Augustine 4-6, Buena 3-7.