Wallkill High School’s football team defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt, 55-47, in a Section 9 Class A semifinal on Friday at Middletown’s Faller Field that was just as crazy as it sounded, Roosevelt coach Brian Bellino said.
“It stings to lose that game, but it was such a good football game,” said Bellino, whose Presidents completed the season with a 4-5 record. “I’m not disappointed with anything.”
Roosevelt came from behind to tie the score six times, but after the Presidents’ Justin Hoskins scored on a four-yard run with 40.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter to pull Roosevelt within 48-47, he was stopped on a two-point conversion attempt.
“We came up about a half a yard short,” Bellino said.
On the next play, Roosevelt used an onside kick and Wallkill’s Brandon Purdy ran the kick 53 yard to the end zone for the winning touchdown.
“It was probably one of the best football games I’ve been associated with and we came out on the wrong end,” Bellino said.
Wallkill’s Zach Slater scored on a 59-yard run for the Panthers in the fourth quarter to take a 7-0 lead, but Hoskins answered back with a three-yard run on the next series to tie the game at 7-7 for the first of his three touchdowns. Wallkill again took the lead back on a one-yard touchdown from Sean Puleo, but Roosevelt’s Matt Du Pilka had a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Bryan to tie the score at 14-14 after one quarter. Du Pilka had two passing and two rushing scores in the game.
Wallkill quarterback Joe Pillitteri found Purdy for a 30-yard touchdown score 2:27 into the second quarter to put the Panthers back up 20-14, but that was answered by a Du Pilka short run 4:23 later to tie the score at 20-20. Puleo scored on a short run a short time later, but was answered back as Du Pilka found Jordan Jones for a score to send the game into halftime tied at 27-27.
Each team scored only a single touchdown in the third quarter as Puleo scored on a 33-yard run, which was answered by another short Du Pilka run to knot the game at 34-34, which was the score at the end of the third quarter.
Roosevelt took its first lead of the game on a 35-yard Hoskins run 51 seconds into the fourth quarter. Pillitteri answered back with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Purdy to tie the game at 41-41. Slater had a 5-yard touchdown with about 6 minutes left before Hoskins scored to give Roosevelt its second lead.
“It was back and forth and defense was not something that was played, which I was a little disappointed in,” Bellino said. “Wallkill did not take a lot of time to score and take the lead back. My guys kept grinding it out and grinding out out. Our desire to win the game was unbelievable.”
Bellino said he figured at season’s end, the remaining teams would include his Presidents, these Panthers of Wallkill, and Cornwall, which won the other semifinal. Along the way, his team had injuries, including to running back Avery Strother, but kept their heads and made the playoffs.
“We’re where we wanted to be,” Bellino said. “The way we got there was certainly a little roundabout. We’re young. We have 12 seniors out of 44 kids and hopefully, we learned a lot from this one.”