It has been awhile. Six years to be exact since New Paltz football last won the Section 9 Class B football title with a win over Marlboro. That 13-0 win was followed by five straight years of dominance by the Dukes — a pretty remarkable streak – that came to an end Friday night at Dietz Stadium as the Huguenots used a bunch of big plays on offense and a stingy defense to down Marlboro 33-17.
The big plays started early with a Jimmy Verney-to-Kumar Singh 46-yard touchdown pass at 7:23 of the first quarter, but the extra point by Guy Soumah was blocked in the line. It was 6-0. Marlboro’s Sam Mongelli was intercepted by Jimmy Verney at the New Paltz 38 on the next play from scrimmage, but New Paltz couldn’t move the ball and punted it away. Marlboro gave the ball back again on a Mongelli fumble at their own 33, with the Huguenots riding the legs of Joey DiMarco and a pass interference call to a first down at the Marlboro 19. But once again they flamed out, losing the ball on downs at the Marlboro 20. And on a third-and-four from their own 20, the Dukes got their first offensive “break” as Philip DeSantis broke up the middle for a 77-yard run to the New Paltz three-yard line. It didn’t look like it at the moment, but a touchdown-saving tackle by Hunter McVea had grave repercussions for Marlboro and gave some full-throttle momentum — the “almighty mo” — to the Huguenots, as the New Paltz defense, led by Kenny Verney, Soumah, Devin Dixon, DiMarco and Phil Dorman, stiffened, leading Marlboro to kick a 21-yard Mongelli field goal. It was 6-3 at 10:10 of the second quarter. And still anybody’s ball-game.
After back-to-back fumbles by Verney at the New Paltz 44 and the Dukes’ Billy Williamson giving it right back two plays later at the same spot, the Huguenots came up with another big play, this one a Verney-to-DiMarco screen out in the right flat, with the wingback/running back taking it home 66 yards for the touchdown. The Soumah extra point was true and it was 13-3 New Paltz at 5:56.
Marlboro followed with their first sustained drive of the game from their own 25 all the way down to the New Paltz 24-yard line — 13 plays fueled by Mongelli and Williamson —but a DeSantis fumble, recovered by DiMarco, gave New Paltz back the ball at their own 20 with a little over 1:00 to play in the half. And in a case of deja vu (all over again), Verney flipped a little screen pass over the hard-charging Marlboro defensive linemen and — just like last week against Liberty in the closing minute of the first-half – found Christian Burda, who turned it into a 70-yard touchdown with just 0:52 left on the halftime clock. Soumah’s point-after made it 20-3 at the half.
Marlboro came back early in the second-half to score on a Mongelli-to-Jay Mianti 15-yard touchdown pass at 8:02, but the two-point conversion run by DeSantis was smothered and it was 20-9 New Paltz. And here came arguably the biggest “big” play of the game; the heart-stabber, the breathe-snuffer, and it came from…who else? Facing a first down on his own 22-yard line, Verney took the snap, checked out his run-options, veered left, slipped a half-dozen tacklers with some impressive footwork and broke into the clear at the 50, then dodging a couple Marlboro D-backs around the ten-yard line and cruising into the end zone. A 78-yard run, reminiscent of last week’s quarterback delay of 95 yards against Liberty. Soumah’s extra point made it 27-9 at 7:34. Essentially, that was the game-ender, but Marlboro — a proud five-time defending champion — once again put together a nine-play 56-yard drive that culminated with a Mongelli-to-John Perugino 15-yard TD pass at 7:18 of the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion run by DeSantis made it 27-17. The Dukes were back in the game, but just barely, they needed to stop New Paltz and get the ball back.