CARMEL – A goal-line interception by David Vega in the opening minutes of the game undoubtedly changed the momentum.
It might’ve changed everything.
Carmel was dominant on defense all night long and came up with just enough timely plays on the other side of the ball Friday to post a 21-0 win over rival Mahopac and hang on to the Higgins Trophy for another year.
It was the first win of the season for the Rams after two difficult losses.
“This one means a lot,” Carmel linebacker Joey Kenna said. “It shows that we can be a good football team. We have more to fix, but we’re on a good road now.”
Stopping the Indians early on was not easy, but Vega made a good play on the ball on second-and-goal.
Mahopac went silent.
“I know their quarterback likes to run with the ball and when he rolled out I made sure I didn’t leave the coverage too early,” Vega said. “I saw him cock his arm and throw. The ball was behind the receiver so I took it away.”
Both offensive units had to grind out yards.
The Rams had to punt after failing to pick up a first down, but the defense came on and forced a three-and-out.
Carmel took eight minutes off the clock with it’s next march. Henry Flocco was called onto the field by coach Todd Cayea during a timeout. A burst of speed got him in from the 5-yard line with 6:17 to go in the second quarter.
Pearce Millard tacked on the PAT.
“I think coach knew I could outrun the defense,” Flocco said. “I saw a guy behind me and got away from him. I saw a huge hole and cut it back.”
A 25-yard scoring pass from Kyle Shilling to Andrew Dilio gave the Rams a 14-0 lead at the half.
Players of the game: Kenna was in so many big tackles, but the entire Carmel defense earned a slap on the helmet.
Turning point: No question. The interception got the Rams inspired.
“It was a huge play, a huge play,” Kenna said. “It was definitely what got everything turned around.”
Stat line: Carmel held Mahopac without a first down for nearly 22 minutes. … The Indians lost a pair of quarterbacks to injury Andrew Ryan and Salvatore Marchionni and finished up with Ryan Dugan. … Flocco also had a nine-yard touchdown sprint one play after Mahopac botched a fourth-quarter punt snap.
Quotable: “Enjoy it,” Cayea told his players afterward. “Of all the groups I’ve coached, none has deserved it more.”