By Mitch Silver
In the longest home game in their history — one that started at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 29, and finished at 10:30 a.m. the following day — the Rye Garnets overcame a power outage that suspended their quarterfinal playoff game with the John Jay Wolves at 35.4 seconds to go in the third period. Returning the following morning, up 21-0, the home team put away the visitors 28-6.
Rye, the top-seeded team from the southern side of the Class A bracket, easily handled the Wolves, formerly known as the Indians, who came in as the fourth seed from the northern side of the county. In fact, the visitors’ offense in the first half lost five yards when all was said and done.
Garnets Head Coach Dino Garr said, “If we held that team to negative yards, the effort from our defensive backs made all the difference. Caleb Wexler, Rafferty McSweeney, and Ryan Surhoff all got interceptions. Mason McComb — everyone did a great job of playing tough man-to-man. The same thing is true with our linebackers. Sam Mead played tough. Teddy Berkery, Jack Garnett. Our defense overall was great.”
When the Garnets’ offense took over, they scored twice in the second quarter, once on a one-yard keeper by senior QB Owen Kovacs and once when Kovacs flung the ball to senior wide receiver Carter Barford while falling backwards. Barford grabbed the ball at the left sideline and went all the way for the second score. Senior Tommaso Grani would make all four point-after kicks for the game.
The second half saw Rye force a John Jay punt on the opening series, and then punt the ball themselves against a whipping wind to the Garnets’ 37 yard-line. But they got the ball back. Senior Luke Goldszer was now the principal ball carrier with starter Caden Whaling having again twisted his previously sprained ankle in the first half. After a seven-minute drive, during which Kovacs was trapped behind the line of scrimmage only to break free, Goldszer would score with 2:35 left in the quarter. Rye 21-John Jay 0.
Two minutes later, a transformer blew, sending the Nugent Stadium field (along with 500 homes in Rye) into total darkness.
When the game resumed the following morning with 35.4 seconds on the scoreboard, the Wolves were able to score with less than five minutes gone in the fourth quarter. But senior co-captain Garnett blocked the point-after, making the score 21-6.
Rye took the ensuing kickoff at their own 29. After making a first down, the Garnets turned the ball over on downs. A Berkery sack led the Wolves to give the ball back, but Rye had to punt on the following series. An interception at the John Jay 46 gave Coach Garr’s men another shot on offense, and Kovacs connected with McComb for a final score that made it 28-6. For the game, Kovacs completed seven of 11 attempts for 140 yards and three touchdowns.
The Garnets meet Mahopac, the second-seeded team in the northern half of Class A, under the once-again working (we hope) lights at Nugent Field Friday night, November 5 in the Sectional semifinals. Coach Garr isn’t taking Mahopac lightly. “They’re big and strong, they won six games and lost the other two by a total of six points. We’ll have to be ready.”