MONTROSE – Before winning in last year’s qualifying round at Nyack, Hen Hud hadn’t won a playoff game since 1999. Perhaps the Sailors shouldn’t have expected Friday night to be easy, but they seemed like a solid favorite over Tappan Zee coming off last week’s wild win at Rye.
That proved to be wishful thinking against the feisty Dutchmen, who pushed No. 7 Hen Hud to the very end. The Sailors held on to beat the No. 10 seed 20-14 in a harrowing Class A qualifying round game.
Hen Hud won’t find out where it’s headed next week until later Saturday, but it’s just happy the season will continue.
“We were definitely a little bit rusty,” coach Mike Lynch said. “I have to tip my cap to coach (Andy) DiDomenico and Tappan Zee. Their game plan was basically to keep our offense off the field and it was smart.”
Hen Hud couldn’t find its offensive rhythm and saw a 12-0 lead turn into a 14-12 deficit after Ryan Holder returned a punt 65 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. The Sailors and quarterback Nick Cunningham responded with their best drive of the night, marching 62 yards in seven plays. Cunningham’s 39-yard pass to Michael Fasolino paved the way for a go-ahead 2-yarder to Jack Attinelly.
Cunningham finished 14 for 23 for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Player of the game: Jack Attinelly, Hen Hud. The senior not only caught the winning touchdown, he produced three key turnovers on defense. Attinelly’s playmaking allowed the Sailors to overcome a sub-par offensive game. He snared a pair of interceptions and recovered a fumble in the first half to help push Hen Hud to a 12-0 lead. The team needed every point.
“Our defense did decent. We usually give up as many as 40 points a game,” Attinelly said. “We had to buckle down because our offense wasn’t clicking. We knew we had to make big plays.”
Turning point: It didn’t come until the very end. After Hen Hud erased a long Tappan Zee completion by forcing a fumble, it then lost the ball back to the Dutchmen on the return. The defense needed one last stop and it delivered. Sophomore Jason Uyaguardi tackled Tappan Zee quarterback Henry Garrison for a loss on third down and then forced an incomplete pass by halfback Matt McGivney on fourth down.
Quotable: “I think that was probably our most mistake-prone half of the season,” Tappan Zee coach Andy DiDomenico said of the first half, which put his team in a 12-0 hole. “We had, I think, one turnover all season and we had three that half. Our kids fought back and were resilient and had a chance to win it in the end.”