No one could have expected this. This, being the score at halftime between 6-1 New Paltz and 2-5 Rondout in the first round of the Class B Section 9 playoffs. Especially since the number three seed Huguenots had run over the number six seed Ganders up in Accord by 40 points just two weeks ago. But there it was, for all to see: 27-27; and it looked as if the second straight New Paltz dream season would be just that…a dream. A dream deferred.
The first-half scoring came hot-and-heavy; here presented in thumbnail fashion.
- New Paltz went up 7-0 at5:10of the first quarter on a Jimmy Verney 27-yard run. The big play(s): a 27-yard Mike Pisciotta run to the Rondout 39. Dan Drewnowski added the extra point.
- Rondout tied it at 7-7 at4:53on a 48-yard TD pass from Ben Hikade-to-Spencer Sands. AJ Parete added the extra point.
- New Paltz went ahead 14-7 on 59-yard run by Mike Pisciotta at3:59. Drewnowski added the point after.
- New Paltz went up 20-7 on a five-yard run by Pisciotta at7:33of the second quarter. The big play(s): a Pisciotta 40-yard run to the Rondout ten-yard line. Drewnowski’s point after attempt was wide right.
- Rondout made it 20-14 on a Hidake-to-Lukas Poremba 45-yard TD pass at6:22. The big play(s): a Hidake-to-Austin Wells 27-yard pass-play to the New Paltz 45-yard line. Parete added the point after.
- Rondout tied it at 20-20 on a Hidake-to-Sean Jansen 25-yard TD pass at5:37. The big play(s): Rondout recovers an onside kick at the New Paltz 23. Parete’s point after is wide left.
- New Paltz recaptured the lead 27-20 on a Verney-to-Axel Rodriguez 33-yard TD pass at2:35. The big play(s): Verney-to-Brian Kenney 12-yard pass to the Rondout 23. Drewnowski added the extra point.
- And finally: Rondout retied it at 27-27 on a Hidake-to-Sands 20-yard TD pass at0:30. The big play(s): an interference call on New Paltz for 14 yards to the Ganders’ 41; a Hidake-to-Poremba 15-yard pass to the New Paltz 20.
And that was that. Hidake’s passing (11-for-17) was driving New Paltz crazy. In coach Bob Koonz’s game plan it was pass-pass-pass, and Hidake found six different receivers to implement it. The Huguenots could outscore the Ganders – as New Paltz assistant coach Dave Moore, smiling, told me just before halftime: “You’d better get another pen” – but they had to figure a way to stop the Rondout passing game. Or it was season over.
Well, what’s the old adage, something about times getting tough and the tough getting going? With last season’s Section 9 Player-of-the-Year Jimmy Verney making it two seasons in a row of 1,000-yard rushing and 1,000 yards passing, one figured that New Paltz would get going. And they did. After a 50-yard kickoff return to the Rondout 47-yard line by Rodriguez to open the second-half, Pisciotta ran for eight yards, then a five-yard penalty on Rondout, before Verney hit Kenney for a 34-yard touchdown at 10:16. Drewnowski hit the extra point and it was 34-27.
On the next series, Rodriguez intercepted Hidake at the New Paltz 15, with the Huguenots going the 85 yards in just six plays, as Verney picked up 65 of those yards on three runs and Pisciotta scoring his third TD of the game from four yards out. Drewnowski added the point after and it was 41-27 at 5:55.
The New Paltz front-line defense, led by Kenny Verney, Blase Driscoll, Jed Weires, Deron Dixon, Sam Stamberg, Tanner Johnson and Anthony DiMarco, put more pressure on Hidake, and D-backs Aidan Hoffman, Jimmy Verney, Rodriguez and Nick Russo tightened up the coverage, and Rondout suddenly couldn’t move the ball (the Ganders’ running game was negligible), It was a couple of three-and-outs, with the Huguenots taking over on downs at their own 27 yard line to start the final quarter. It was Pisciotta for three yards, Verney for 33 yards to the Rondout 37, Kenny Verney a yard up the middle, and then Jimmy V. to Kenney over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown. Drewnowski added the extra point and it was New Paltz 48-27 at 9:36.
It was finally – game over. The final: 55-27, with Jimmy Verney rushing for 298 yards and Pisciotta 182 yards, with Verney passing for 121 yards on 5-10 attempts and three touchdowns.
New Paltz moves on to play number two seed Spackenkill – who the Huguenots defeated handily early in the season – on Saturday, October 28 at 3 p.m. at either Dietz Stadium in Kingston or Faller Field in Middletown.