SCARSDALE – As they met on the sideline with just 37.5 seconds left, Scarsdale coach Andy Verboys gave his players two plays: a run to Stephen Nicholas and a fade pass to Sam Squadron. In a perfect world, one play would tee up the other, but best-laid plans are usually no match for the vagaries of football
This was an exception. The Raiders’ strategy worked with Nicholas moving the ball to the 10 and Squadron scoring on a 10-yard pass from Michael Rolfe with just 18.4 seconds remaining.
The completion sent No. 4 Scarsdale on to a wild 33-28 victory over No. 5 Mahopac in the Class AA quarterfinals. The Raiders will visit No. 1 New Rochelle in Saturday’s semis.
“It was perfect,” Squadron said. “We’ve gone over in practice our two-minute drills all the time and we were ready. We rushed up to the line fast. Michael threw a great ball and all I had to do was catch it.”
Mahopac — its offense humming after last week’s return of star quarterback Dan Foley — had regained the lead with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Jacklett intercepted Rolfe and Joe Cavaciuti raced 61 yards two plays later. He also caught a two-point pass from Foley for a 28-21 lead.
Scarsdale’s Nick Leone answered, but the extra point fell short.
“Once they scored, I kind of hung my head a little,” Nicholas said. “I was really upset in the huddle. But then I realized, guys, this could be the last four minutes of our careers. We can never touch this football field again. I think that touched the guys.”
Player of the game: Stephen Nicholas, Scarsdale. The senior had 23 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 41 yards and played a key role on defense.
Turning point: Sensing Mahopac’s momentum down and trailing 28-27, Scarsdale attempted an onside kick after Leone’s touchdown. The ball went out of bounds near midfield, but the defense stopped Mahopac on three plays to force a punt. It left 4:13 for the Raiders to drive 85 yards in 17 plays for the winning score.
Stat line: The teams were nearly even. Both rushed for 271 yards and Scarsdale had 98 passing yards to 83 for Mahopac. … Rolfe had 16 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns and went 8 for 20 for 90 yards and a score. … Christian Donahoe led Mahopac with 135 yards rushing and a touchdown before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter due to injury. … Cavaciuti had 15 carries for 124 yards and two scores. … In his first full game all season, Foley went 4 for 6 for 82 yards, including a 65-yard heave to Dillon McDonagh on the first play of the game.
Quotable: “We’ve practiced those plays a million times,” Rolfe said of the final sequence. “It was picture-perfect.”