Ryan Cary caught the pass in stride and continued his slant toward the left corner of the end zone without a defender in sight.
Six more points for the Marlboro High School football team, and what was previously a battle became a blowout.
The Iron Dukes defeated New Paltz on a muddy Friday 28-7 to complete the regular season 8-0 and earn the top seed for the Section 9 Class B playoffs.
“It’s nice. Right now I told the kids, ‘Enjoy 8-0, and then tomorrow we’ll be 0-0 and we’ve got to go to work,’ ” Marlboro coach Rich Ward said. “Now it’s do or die.”
Marlboro, the defending Section 9 Class B champion, will play in the sectional semifinals on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. at Middletown’s Faller Field. New Paltz (6-2) also qualified for the playoffs, and will play Spackenkill at 3 p.m., also a week from today at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Cary’s touchdown catch, a 30-yard pass from Justin Votta on the first play of the fourth quarter, was the final Marlboro touchdown. Cary also threw a 12-yard touchdown to Zack Sakadelis in the third quarter, expanding on the Iron Dukes’ 14-7 halftime advantage.
“New Paltz is a great team,” Cary said. “We played hard, played 48 minutes of football.”
After allowing the opening score, a 59-yard run to the right from Khariff LaBoy on the game’s third play from scrimmage, the Marlboro defense tightened up on the Huguenots’ two-headed running attack of LaBoy and Darryl Clark, holding the pair to 106 combined yards on the ground.
As a result of the defense, Marlboro was able to start drives within 60 yards of the end zone nine times, and in New Paltz territory four times.
“Defense played real well. We had a breakdown on the first series,” Ward said, “and then after that, they played sound. I couldn’t be more proud of them. That New Paltz team is good. They’re really good.”
New Paltz was held without a first down on six series.
“We had to keep fighting and keep fighting,” Marlboro senior Devin Pierre said.
Marlboro answered LaBoy’s opening touchdown with a 10-play, 60-yard drive. After nine runs, the Iron Dukes found their way to the end zone on an 18-yard screen pass from Votta to Austin Beck on the right side. New Paltz’s Nick Dimarco blocked the extra-point attempt.
Marlboro took the lead for good in the second quarter on a 1-yard Votta quarterback keeper, set up by a 21-yard run from Cary, followed by a 2-point conversion pitch to Pierre.
New Paltz gave itself a chance to pull even just before the half, recovering a fumble with 63 seconds remaining at the Marlboro 41.
But facing a second-and-10 on the 15-yard-line, New Paltz quarterback Harrison Zraly was sacked to end the half, one of four Iron Dukes sacks.
After the game, as the Iron Dukes knelt down awaiting words from their coach, Pierre stood up amongst his teammates, triumphant. “We’re 8-0, baby!” he screamed, “How’s that feel?”