New Paltz bows in state regionals
Panthers prove to be overpowering in second half as they end Huguenots’ season
It definitely looked like New Paltz High’s football team would have the momentum heading into the second half Friday night after rallying to get within 22-20 at halftime of its state Class B quarterfinal game.
The final two quarters, however, belonged to Section 1’s Pleasantville.
New Paltz, fresh off winning its first Section 9 title in six years, had its terrific season end at Dietz Stadium as Pleasantville scored 34 unanswered points in the second half to win, 56-20.
The undefeated (11-0) Panthers are back at Dietz next Saturday to play either Glens Falls or Peru in the state semifinals.
New Paltz had just fallen behind, 22-13, with 38 seconds left in the half. Joey DiMarco answered with a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and the Huguenots went into the locker room down only two and knowing they would get the second-half kickoff.
That next drive stalled at midfield and, after an exchange of punts, the Hugies had the ball on their on own 14. On the next play, linebacker Ian Esliker sacked and stripped the ball from New Paltz quarterback Jimmy Verney, defensive end Cullen Dell scooped it up at the 2 and strode into the end zone for a crucial TD.
After that, the Panthers had all the momentum. They stopped New Paltz three times on fourth
down in the final two quarters and scored on their final four possessions to put the game out of reach.
“We felt we played a great half. We were excited in the locker room,” Huguenots coach Tom Tegeler said.
“Once we gave the scoop-and-score for them, you could see it. I was like, ‘Oh, God. Another one of these.’ We missed a big block on the blitz and it turned into points for them. Then it was too much to overcome.
“That kind of took the momentum away. We were hanging with them through the first half. I thought it was a great first half of football.”
Declan McDermott rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown, had a TD catch and also threw an halfback option pass for another score. Charlie McPhee rushed for 103 yards and two TDs and Jack Howe completed 11-of-16 passes for 122 yards to lead Pleasantville.
Hunter McVea ran for 123 yards and one touchdown, Verney ran for 101 yards and Joey DiMarco caught a TD pass to go along with his kickoff return to guide (82) New Paltz. Verney also made an interception.
In front of a large New Paltz contingent that included former Huguenot great and now FOX analyst Charles Davis (in New York to broadcast Sunday’s Los
Angeles Rams at Jets game), the Hugies held their own in a first-half shootout.
McPhee’s one-handed 31yard tightrope catch along the Panthers sideline set up Ryan Drillock’s 3-yard TD run to give Plasantville the early lead.
New Paltz, though, scored on its first two offensive plays. McVea scored on a 60-yard run, then DiMarco turned Verney’s screen pass into a 50-yard TD to put the Hugies up 13-7 midway through the first quarter.
The Panthers regained the lead on Howe’s 13-yard pass to Dermott early in the second quarter and had widened the margin to 20-7 on McPhee’s 1-yard plunge just before the half.
New Paltz, stopped on fourth down at the Panther 24 and 35 in the first half, were denied again at the 30 late in the third quarter. McDermott raced 70 yards on the next play for a touchdown.
Kenny Verney’s 36-yard kickoff return had the Hugies back in Pleasantville territory, but they were stopped this time on the 27. McPhee soon broke free for a 44-yard TD run and a 4620 advantage.
A DiMarco 37-yard return had New Paltz again across midfield, but McPhee leveled McVea on fourth down at the 37. Soon after, McDermott hit a wide
open Brian Reda with the 48-yard halfback pass and another score.
“We tried to slow the pace of the game down but, so many points were being scored, we had to speed up and we were just shot,” Tegeler said. “They were good on defense and they sent a lot of people.”
The Hugies fumbled on the next drive and Esliker cashed it in with a 71-yard TD run.
Pleasantville finished with 301 yards rushing. New Paltz ran for 265 yards.
“I’m proud of the kids. They played an excellent season, an excellent first half,” Tegeler said. “They did everything right for the most part until the end.”
New Paltz will lose 11 seniors, but return a solid core of young, talented players.
“We got a lot coming back,” Tegeler said. “We’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine.”
In Tegeler’s 16 years, New Paltz has made the section finals eight times, won four titles and also lost each time in the state tournament.
“If we want to jump over that hump, we got to bury ourselves in the weight room,” he remarked. “I think this year a lot of kids, six or seven, lifted pretty hard. Overall, we got to get stronger as a program. Everytime we come against Section 1, they’re more physically fit. That was the message to my players. A
great year for the seniors, but we need to really focus if we want to take the next step. To get into the sectional playoffs is not the goal anymore.”
New Paltz quarterback Jimmy Verney keeps the ball on a run during Friday night’s game at Dietz Stadium.
New Paltz Joseph DiMarco looks to break free on a carry.