Showing the poise that put his famous uncle in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the St. Joe’s all-star senior quarterback simply refused to let his team lose on Thursday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He threw a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with 18 seconds left to give the Marauders an epic 48-47 win over rival Canisius in the second game of the MMAA semifinals.
Down by 7, the Marauders faced a fourth-and-16 in the dying seconds. Kelly hit Rod Payne for the touchdown and then connected with Yanni Zulia for the winning two-point conversion.
“Chad’s great in that situation,” Payne said. “He’s the one that called that (touchdown) play.”
On their final 76-yard drive, the Marauders reached the 6-yard line with a minute to go. Kelly’s first two passes fell incomplete and a running play went awry, setting the stage for the dramatic ending. He found an open Payne down the middle and the sophomore fullback juggled the ball but held on and dove for the end zone, barely reaching the goal line.
“We had to get it done,” Kelly said. “They kept on rotating a lot of people over to the right-hand side when we would roll out to the right. I said, ‘Hey Rod, go straight up the middle, there’s not going to be anybody,” because they started blitzing everybody, too. There was nobody in the middle of the field, I saw it, I made the read, threw it to Rod and he scored.”