Last season Croton-Harmon and Our Lady of Lourdes high schools met twice in football with Croton winning both matchups, including the Class B Section 1 championship game.
But it’s a new year.
“They were just more physical than us,” Croton linebacker Peter Miller said after the visiting Tigers fell 27-0 to Lourdes at Overlook Park Saturday. “We knew exactly what they were going to be doing. We just couldn’t stop
More precisely, Croton (3-1) couldn’t stop Warriors running back Bryce Gioia, who ran for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The junior also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dean Rotger. The freshman Rotger was 4 for 11 for 42 yards.
“This game meant so much to everybody on the team, (because of) last year,” Gioia said. “We were fired up. I hate to say it but sometimes you come out flat. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. We were so pumped up this game, it helped us.”
“We keep trying to get better,” Lourdes coach Brian Walsh said. “We’re just trying to get the kids to give us a good effort. It’s what we aim for every day in practice. This is the game we’ve been shooting for since last year. Even though we emphasize week to week, it’s natural for the kids to look ahead. They wanted to rectify what happened last year.”
The Tigers had no answer for the Warriors’ defense. Croton, which saw its 21-game win streak against Section 1 opponents broken, was held to less than 10 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with just over 40 for the game.
“They shut us out. We didn’t have a whole lot of offense,” Croton coach John Catano said. “Their defense played good, my hat’s off to them. They really came to play tonight and they won.”
Croton converted just two first downs the entire game, the second of which came late in the fourth quarter.
Despite the blowout, Lourdes (4-0) didn’t get on the scoreboard until the second quarter after Croton quarterback Ben Gelfand threw an interception to Nick Wynne. Lourdes took over at the Croton 39 and Gioia caught his only pass of the afternoon three plays later, putting the Warriors up 7-0.
Later in the second quarter, after Lourdes’ Christian Keenan returned a punt 29 yards to the Croton 15, Gioia scored on a 1-yard run, sending his team
into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
“He just ran hard, he’s a kid that gives you 110 percent on every play with second and third efforts all the way,” Walsh said.
Croton received the second-half kickoff but went three-and-out and punted. Lourdes’ Nick Cuccia received the punt and was tackled low and awkwardly, sending him to the turf screaming with what turned out to be a dislocated left kneecap.
Lourdes took over at its own 40. After Rotger kept the ball to convert a first down just past midfield, Gioia got the call and broke several tackles for a 49-yard score, his longest rush of the game.
“It was 99 percent for (Cuccia). We all said before the play this is for him,” Gioia said.
Gioia added one more touchdown with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter on a