NEW CITY – The Clarkstown North locker room was not a genteel place at halftime Friday night, not after the third-seeded Rams had played a scoreless first half against a rival playing without its starting quarterback. If they needed some motivation, they sure got it.
“Halftime was a lot of yelling, but that’s how it is when you know how good you can be and you’re not playing well,” senior quarterback Jack Abrams said. “We came out a little soft and played a little timid. I just think we were thinking too much and not just playing football and having fun.”
Abrams, three surprise touchdowns from senior Matt Asheim and another stout defensive effort led Clarkstown North to a 21-0 shutout over No. 6 Clarkstown North, a team the Rams beat to open the season. This game proved to be much different at first, but North (7-1) certainly won’t sweat the outcome.
The Rams will travel to No. 2 John Jay-East Fishkill for next week’s Class AA semifinals.
“We came out flat. It was tough,” North coach Joe Trongone said. “You know how it is in North-South. They played a great game Week 1, but I told them it wasn’t going to be like that again.”
And it wasn’t, not with the Rams losing two first-half fumbles. But after Abrams and Asheim combined for a touchdown in the third quarter, they never looked back. The defense allowed just 26 yards in the second half and that included a 37-yard run by South’s Kyle Samuels.
Player of the game: Matt Asheim, Clarkstown North. Asheim had been his usual steady self at inside linebacker in the first half, but he morphed into the offensive star in the second half. Trongone, in search of a more physical runner, turned to him at fullback and it paid dividends. Asheim scored all three touchdowns, two on the ground and one in the air. All nine of his touches came after halftime. They totaled a modest 52 yards, but every yard was key.
Turning point: The final score may seem lopsided, but the game was anything but midway through the third quarter. On fourth-and-8 at the South 21, Abrams rolled right and found Asheim, who had slipped behind the linebackers. The senior did the rest, rumbling 21 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The play seemed to break the ice and the Rams dominated from there.
Stat line: Abrams led the Rams with 93 yards rushing, including a 37-yard run on the opening play of the game. … MIchael Porco had 19 carries for 55 yards. Clarkstown North rushed for 230 yards as a team and outgained South 262-104. … The Rams had four sacks, including two by Cameron Conrad. … Samuels had 10 carries for 69 yards. The Vikings played without starting quarterback Matt Jung, who suffered a broken left collarbone in last week’s 14-2 victory over North Rockland.
Quotable: “We played a bad first half. One coach was mad. One coach was happy. One coach tried to calm us down,” Asheim said. “Whatever they did, it worked.”