John Jay used a pair of late scores to put away host Yorktown in a 21-0 shutout of the host Cornhuskers March 20.
Christian Shapiro and Jon Connelly each scored rushing touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to seal the road win for the Wolves, who had seen their 2019 season come to an end with a Section I/Class A semifinal defeat at the hands of the Cornhuskers.
“I was really happy for our boys tonight,” Jay head coach Jim Clark said. “They have been persevering through this pandemic, and I am just so thankful that they had the opportunity to create a family environment and get out on the field tonight to compete.”
He continued, “The defense executed a great game plan implemented by our defensive coordinator Ryan Velez. The defense was led by linebackers Grady Halafanua, Ryan Brennan, Aiden Cullen and Jack O’Reilly.” Clark added, “The defense played a very physical brand of football holding Yorktown to only three first downs.”
Midway through the final stanza, Shapiro took a toss from QB Nick Giardina and raced around the right end and into the end zone from six yards out to extend the Jay lead to 14-0 with 8:41 remaining.
On Yorktown’s next possession, the Wolves’ Austin Zaccagnino intercepted a pass from the backup Huskers quarterback that set up the Wolves on the home team’s 40-yard line. Later in that possession, Connolly scored from a yard out to increase the Jay advantage to 21-0 with 5:23 to play.
“Jon Connolly was determined to get into the end zone on our last drive,” Clark said. “He ran very hard tonight.”
The Wolves had opened the scoring with 3:52 to go in the first quarter when Giardina connected with Chris DiChiara on a 14-yard scoring pass.
The physical battle remained stalemated at that 7-0 margin through the next two-plus quarters.
Once each in the second and third periods, though, Yorktown pinned Jay on their own one-yard line after punts.
On the first occasion, a 45-yard run by Giardina moved the ball out to the Yorktown 40. Though the drive would stall, a Lucas Orlovitz punt was downed at the ‘Huskers’ 10, flipping the field.
Early in the third quarter, the Jay offense would push the ball out to their own 30 before being forced to punt.
Connelly finished the night with 107 yards rushing on 25 carries. Giardina completed seven passes for 72 yards and added another 71 yards on the ground on a dozen attempts.
Yorktown starting QB Keith Boyer was forced to the sidelines after one quarter with an injured shoulder.
Meanwhile, what was old was new again for the Carmel football program as head coach Todd Calyea, relieved of his duties after the 2019 season was back on the sidelines, reinstated by the district without missing a game or a practice.
And the Rams picked up where they left off in 2019 when they finished 8-2, including a Section I/Class AA title game loss to eventual state champion New Rochelle, defeating host Fox Lane, 51-14, March 19 in Bedford.
Rams’ quarterback Kevin Dall, in his first varsity start, completed 8-of-11 passes for 56 yards and one score and added another 46 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on six carries as he directed the offense flawlessly.
Fox Lane’s Christian Horvath topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the home team, picking up 110 yards on 13 carries. However, the Foxes’ offense struggled to gain traction against the Carmel defense throughout the night, totaling 136 yards of offense, equally distributed at 68 yards through the air and on the ground.
Carmel dominated from the outset, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions and holding the ball for all but 1:22 of the 12-minute opening period.
An 11-play, 54-yard drive on their first possession was capped by a one-yard keeper by Dall that staked the Rams to a 7-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Fox Lane QB Eric Miller was intercepted on his first pass of the season and the Foxes’ second snap. Carmel converted the turnover into seven points by going 40 yards in seven plays, the last being a 20-yard tackle breaking run to the end zone by Dall.
Down quickly by two scores, Fox Lane would forego punting as they attempted to get much needed points. However, Carmel would stop the Foxes on a fourth-and-15 from their own 15-yard line.
The Rams then needed only four plays to cover the 19 yards, Dall hitting Andrew Fiore for a six-yard scoring strike with 6:31 to go in the half — the score boosting the Carmel lead to 21-0.
Fox Lane showed life on their next possession with Horvath busting loose for a 51-yard gain down to the Carmel 25. Three plays later, Miller hit Horvath down the right sideline for a 27-yard TD catch-and-run that cut the home team’s deficit to 21-6 with 3:23 left before the intermission.
The Foxes recovered an onside kick attempt, taking over on the Rams’ 40. However, Miller was sacked on fourth down back on the Foxes’ 37, turning the ball over to Carmel.
Three plays later, Fiore broke a reverse for 37 yards and a TD, resulting in a 28-6 lead with only 49 seconds left in the half.
Carmel would tack on a 12-yard scoring run by Josh Massi, a one-yard plunge by Nick Rosaforte and a 41-yard field goal by Nick Sodano in the third quarter, as well as a 15-yard pick six by Joseph Risley in the final quarter.
Miller would add a TD to Fox Lane’s total with a 12-yard scoring run late in the fourth period.