Rye Neck Football
Black Hats Come Back to Edge Croton Harmon
By Mitch Silver
In one of their wildest games in years, Rye Neck came back from a two-point halftime deficit Saturday to turn the tables on visiting Croton-Harmon. The final 34-32 score hints at the offensive fireworks set off by both teams. In the midst of it all, Rye Neck Head Coach Nick Ianello may just have found himself the quarterback that will lead the Black Hats back to glory: sophomore Evan Falco.
All Falco did was complete 24 of 36 passes for 374 yards and three scoring strikes, one of which went for 75 yards. A longtime fan of Panther football said, “I’ve been watching this team for years. They passed more today than all the other games this century.”
A slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. Falco connected eight times with senior running back Tyler Simon for over a hundred yards. And Simon wasn’t even the team’s aerial leader. That honor went to senior co-captain Mike Colasanti, who caught three balls for 123 yards, including that 75-yard heave.
After taking an early 14-0 lead on a Simon run set up by a Nick Sabia fumble recovery and then a Falco-to-Muhammed Abdalla touchdown pass, Rye Neck seemed set on giving the game away. In the second period, co-captain Matt Quartararo fumbled on his own 25. Croton went in immediately for six, though a missed kick of a PAT left the score at 14-6. Less than four minutes later, the Tigers scored again, and the two-point conversion failed again.
A long TD ramble sent the Tigers in front for the first time in the game with 80 seconds left in the half. Their two-point effort failed yet again. When Croton’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, the penalty and a Falco screen pass to Simon took the ball all the way to the five-yard line. With 11 ticks left on the clock, Falco hit Quartararo in the far right corner of the end zone. John Crea, yet another co-captain, slashed his way through heavy traffic for the two-pointer that would send the Black Hats into the locker room up 22-18 at the half. Right?
Wrong. With 1.5 seconds left on the clock, a second-down swing pass sent the Tigers all the way to pay dirt as time expired. For the fourth straight time, though, the Tigers botched the point after. Still, Rye Neck should have been permanently deflated just when they had reason to celebrate. Right?
Wrong again. That Hail Mary to Colasanti and a Falco keeper provided just enough of a second-half margin to withstand everything Croton-Harmon could throw at them. So, what was the fire-and-brimstone talk Coach Ianello gave at halftime?
“I told them to keep working hard and good things will happen.” Talk about motivational speakers.
After the game, the coach’s smile was a mile wide. He said, “The best part of today was that the team never quit. They are a part of a support system here that many of them have never experienced. Today they played for each other.”
Will the Era of Good Feelings carry over when the team hosts arch-rival Blind Brook, 14-0 winners over Valhalla? Be at the football field tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
Evan Falco launches a touchdown pass midway through the first half.
Co-captain Matt Quartararo strips the Croton runner of the football.
Tyler Simon (24) stoops to conquer Croton by covering the loose ball.