EASTCHESTER – There were key injuries and missed opportunities, but, worse, now it was over. The perfect season that Eastchester floated through since August ended in tears, including from choked-up coach Fred DiCarlo.
The second-seeded Eagles lost at home to No. 3 Lourdes 27-19 in Saturday’s Class A semifinal, a game that wasn’t over until a final-minute rally that wasn’t.
“It was one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of,” Eastchester senior Andrew Schultz said. “Lourdes was the better team today. I wish them well next week. It’s going to be a great game.”
The Warriors (7-2) advanced to their fourth straight sectional final, but their first since moving to Class A. The defending Class B champs will meet the reigning ‘A’ kings Rye at 11 Saturday morning at Dutchess Stadium.
Eastchester (8-1) saw its quest for the program’s first championship appearance in the state-playoff era hampered in the first quarter when star quarterback John Arcidiacono injured his right ankle fielding a punt. Still, after watching Lourdes slowly assume control, the Eagles had one final opportunity, but their final drive stalled, in part, when DiCarlo was called for a 15-yard penalty.
He protested after Schultz was hit in mid-air on an incomplete pass. Three plays after the penalty, Arcidiacono’s fourth-and-long prayer was intercepted downfield by Billy Wagner.
Wagner also caught one of two touchdowns from star QB Dean Rotger, whose offense produced key plays at decisive moments of the game.
“They made some outstanding plays where I thought we had them covered well,” DiCarlo said. “You have to give them credit.”
Player of the game: Billy Wagner, Lourdes. The senior gave Rotger a second receiving option, catching six passes for 109 yards, including a leaping touchdown he ripped away from a defender in the end zone. He also delivered a momentum-shifting play on defense. In the second quarter, Wagner, a linebacker, dropped to intercept a third-and-short pass in Lourdes territory and returned it 40 yards, ending a promising Eastchester drive.
Turning point: Eastchester breezed to a touchdown on its opening possession, moving 72 yards in five plays. After the defense forced a punt on Lourdes first possession, Arcidiacono called for a fair catch at his 19. The senior suffered an ankle injury that hampered him on offense and defense for the remainder of the game and the Eagles were never quite the same.
“It limited some of what we could do, but I still should’ve been able to make some of those runs,” he said. “They played a great game.”
Stat line: Rotger finished 18 for 32 for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Timm caught seven passes for 178 yards, including a key fourth-and-5 reception that set up the last of Joe Scaglione’s two touchdowns and gave the Warriors a 27-19 lead. … After a 5 for 5 start, Arcidiacono went 7 for 16 for 126 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also had 17 carries for 39 yards. … John Guido led the Eastchester rushing attack, recording 17 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Quotable: “It was exactly the same thing. It was a defenseless receiver,” DiCarlo said. “More than not calling the penalty (on Lourdes), I didn’t curse at the referee. I was mad, but at the moment you have to swallow the flag. I thought it was poor refereeing.”