It was truly grind-it-out football. No doubt about it, as both Air Goshen and Three-Yards-and-A-Puff-of-AstroTurf New Paltz banged away at each other in a Class A semifinal this past Friday night at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. In the end the Huguenots, with 334 yards on the turf in 46 carries, carried the day 17-13, and now will have the unenviable honor of meeting all-World Cornwall — who clubbed Minisink Valley 41-0 in the other semifinal — in the Section 9 final this Friday, November 2 at Faller Field in Middletown at 7 p.m.
It’s a tall order for newly-established 100-career win (in 18 seasons) New Paltz head coach Tom Tegeler, who motivated his once-struggling team (in the early season) to successive upset wins over Warwick and the Gladiators (who defeated the Huguenots 29-14 just two weeks ago). And he did it the way he has over the past years that have brought New Paltz three Section 9 titles and all but one winning season: running the football. With speed-burner Mike Pisciotta rushing for 177 yards on 20 carries and Kenny “The Human Tank” Verney rushing for 107 on ten carries, with quarterback Ethan Smith picking up 75 on the ground and 43 through the air, the Hugies had just enough diversity to keep Goshen off balance. But make no mistake about it: this was power football. And a game of surprisingly long drives for scores.
Goshen got on the board first on a 13-play 66-yard first-quarter drive, culminating in a Matt Giordano-to-Jared Cassel 18-yard touchdown pass at 2:30. The two-point conversion attempt was broken up in the end zone by Anthony DiMarco. New Paltz got on the board after a 14-play 86-yard drive — the big plays: a Smith-to-Verney 16-yard pass-play on a third-and-five from the New Paltz 19-yard line; and two Pisciotta runs of 15 and 25 yards — culminating in a Dan Drewnowski 25-yard field goal at 1:45 of the second quarter. It was 6-3 Goshen at the half.
The Huguenots opened the second-half with yet another long drive — 91 yards in 15 plays — the big moments: a Smith-to-Aidan Hoffman pass-play for 14 yards on a third-and-six from the New Paltz 13-yard line; two Pisciotta runs of 12 and 14 yards (the latter bringing the Hugies into Goshen territory); an 18-yard Pisciotta run to the Goshen 15 on a third-and-eight from the 33-yard line, culminating in Pisciotta’s three-yard TD run at 3:40. Drewnowski’s extra point was true, and it was 10-6 New Paltz.
Goshen, in rare fashion for this game, came right back under Giordano’s potent arm, going 72 yards in five plays, the big ones a 39-yard pass-play to Cassel, then 35 yards to Jake Kunis for the touchdown at 1:55. The extra point was good and it was 13-10 Goshen.
New Paltz came right back to score on a Smith 16-yard run, with the big plays a Smith-to-Hoffman pass-play for 13 yards and two Smith runs of 19 and 15 yards (the latter to the Gladiators 15-yard line). The Drewnowski point-after was true and it was New Paltz up 17-13 at 9:56 of the fourth quarter. It was hold on time…and the New Paltz defense did just that.
But to give credit for ballsy calls: New Paltz had a fourth-and-six at the Goshen 37-yard line and Tegeler (and crew) decided to go for it. A pooch punt by Drewnowski would have put Goshen back another 20-or-so yards, but the Hugies eschewed that option for a Smith-to -Nick Russo pass-play that was broken up by Goshen’ Max Suarez at the 15-yard line. And so much for second-guessing, as the play-choice seemed to fire up both teams. There was 4:35 left when Goshen began its final drive. And the Huguenots defense could see what it had left.
It was Giordano for two yards, then Rob Siracuse for six. Giordano 18 on a third-and two from the Goshen 45, then 15 to the New Paltz 22 — could the Hugies hold on? — Siracuse got three yards to the 19, and it was second-and-seven. Giordano was stuffed for no gain by Devin Dixon and Blaise Driscoll — it was third-and-seven — then Giordano’s pass intended for Kunis was broken up by Hoffman at the five-yard line. It was fourth-and-seven from the New Paltz 19 with just 1:50 to go in the game…the moment of truth (as its called)…the game’s Naked Lunch. Giordano threw into the end zone for Kunis, open for a split second, before DiMarco got a hand in and broke up the potential game-winning touchdown. It was over…with Verney adding a typical bulldozer-like 44-yard run down the sideline to seal the game.
The final was 17-13 New Paltz (now 5-4 on the season)…and it is on to Cornwall.
Highland ended its comeback season under new coach Josh Tatum with a 34-14 loss to Chester in a cross-over game. The Huskies’ scores were by Max Vidal on a 46-yard run and Andrew Ligotino on a 22-yard run. Highland finished the season at 4-5.