A Fumble, by Harrison, and Then a Miracle, by Rye
Leading up to the 83rd Rye-Harrison football game October 19, which was played on Harrison’s home turf, a Varsity Insider poll picked the Garnets to win.
By Melanie Cane
Leading up to the 83rd Rye-Harrison football game October 19, which was played on Harrison’s home turf, a Varsity Insider poll picked the Garnets to win. But at halftime, with the game deadlocked at 0, things weren’t looking promising for the Garnets. Harrison’s defense had controlled the tempo of the game, achieving what no other team has achieved this year: They shut down Rye’s offense, limiting the Garnets to three first downs (versus their seven), 83 total yards (they had 135), and had possession of the ball for two more minutes than Rye. To make matters worse for the Garnets, senior captain Chris Santangelo had injured his ankle near the end of the first quarter and sat out the second.
But Santangelo returned to the game in the third quarter, and the Garnets made some strategic adjustments. Neither team, however, came close to scoring in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Harrison drove toward Rye’s end zone, their third time inside the red zone, and Huskies fans were on their feet cheering what seemed to be inevitable, until the fumble at the 5-yard line, which Rye’s Conor Murphy recovered. Garnets’ fans finally had something to cheer about, as the Huskies’ fans let out one collective gasp.
With Rye’s possession of the ball at their 5-yard line, Harrison sacked Livingston for a safety and led 2-0 with 10:32 to go. Livingston’s free kick off angled out of bounds and Harrison took over the ball on Rye’s 35-yard line. In this dire scenario, Rye stepped it up, forcing Harrison into a fourth-and-six on Rye’s 41-yard line. And then the miraculous happened — Rye’s Zach Holmes blocked Harrison’s punt and teammate Chase Pratt recovered. This was Harrison’s third turnover (Rye had none) and the turning point of the game.
With 8:34 remaining, and the momentum shifted to Rye, the Garnets took the ball on their 44-yard line, the second best position they’d had all day. At third-and-long, Livingston hit Tim DeGraw with a 12-yard pass and a first down. With fewer than seven minutes left in the game, Livingston, Murphy and O’Malley marched the ball towards the goal. With 3:15 on the clock, the Garnets were second-and-goal. Murphy burst through a crack in Harrison’s defense for an 8-yard touchdown, his fifth touchdown in the past four games. It took Rye five and a half minutes to drive the ball 56 yards for this touchdown, but Rye fans will agree, it was the touchdown they’d been waiting for all season.
After the touchdown, Santangelo caught the two-point conversion pass from Livingston and with 3:08 to go, Rye had an 8-2 lead.
Harrison kept fighting until the bitter end, but with 1:26 left in the game, DeGraw made the interception that ended their chances.
Coach Dino Garr gave the Huskies their due. “Harrison has a great team. We expected a dogfight going in and that’s what we got. Their defense is spectacular, but our guys are a great group and they rose to the occasion.” Garr is in his 32nd year as head coach.
Rye’s junior quarterback Andrew Livingston discussed the game afterwards. “We came in expecting a very tough physical game. They rushed our passes, but we didn’t panic, because Coach Garr anticipated they might shut down our go-to plays and we had a whole arsenal of plays prepared.
“I am so proud of the team for stepping it up, especially the defense. We stepped up our running game toward the end. We didn’t mess up because we are well disciplined. We gained confidence from this game that, hopefully, we will take into our first playoff game next week.”
Senior defensive back Alex Raynor had a different spin on the game. “Being down 2-0 late in the game, and seeing how much our offense struggled really killed morale. But after our defense made the stop and Zach Holmes blocked their punt, the momentum really swung back our way. The offense pushed the ball well on the ground and Conor burst into the end zone.”
This is the second time this season Rye has been down in the fourth quarter. The last time was against Somers, their second game of the season and they came back — twice — to win.
The Chris Mello award was presented to Conor Murphy of Rye and Jeremy Altamuro of Harrison.
The Rye-Harrison rivalry now stands at 42 (Harrison), 38 (Rye), and three ties.
The Garnets finished the season as league champions (7-0). They face Yorktown in the sectional quarterfinals at home on October 25.