VALHALLA – It was going to take much more than one interception to deter Ardsley quarterback Julian McGarvey.
The junior signal-caller was picked off in the end zone on the Panthers’ opening drive against Valhalla on Friday night in what he called a “must-win” game, but he just kept chucking it.
“I trust my arm, no matter what,” McGarvey said. “I feel like I’m one of the best quarterbacks in the section, even though it’s Class B football. I feel like I can throw the rock to anybody anywhere, and my coach (Dan DiFalco) has nothing but confidence in me. Our plan in the first half was to throw the ball as much as we could and air it out.”
Later in the first half, McGarvey found Ricky Chenard for a highlight-reel touchdown catch, and he was poised throughout the second half — both with his arm and with his legs.
Ardsley has had some heartbreaking losses against the best teams in Class B so far this season — namely Westlake, Pleasantville and Nanuet — but it was different this time around. The Panthers escaped with a crucial 14-7 win after Brett Loccisano put them up for good with a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“Whenever we’re under the lights, we always feel like we’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” Chenard said. “We’re out here for a reason, and we just come to play. With the way the season has been going, we knew we had to step it up — and tonight, we did.”
The Vikings scored their only touchdown on the opening drive, with quarterback Ralph Gonzalez III running for a 1-yard score after he converted on fourth-and-11 with a 25-yard pass to Luke Ursillo.
Ardsley tied it just before halftime when McGarvey lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone for Chenard, who somehow managed to catch it off of a deflection and stay in bounds.
“We called a timeout, and coach said, ‘You’re running a stop-and-go, and we’re throwing you the ball,’ ” Chenard said. “I knew I had to make a play on it.”
Player of the game: Julian McGarvey, Ardsley — The junior completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 50. His biggest moment came on a fourth-and-four run in which he gained 9 yards, setting up Loccisano’s go-ahead touchdown with 7:24 to play.
Turning point: On first-and-goal with the score tied 7-7 late in the third quarter, Ardsley fumbled and Valhalla’s Evan Parker recovered. But three players later, the Vikings had a fumble of their own and the Panthers jumped on it to take the ball right back.
Quotable: “That was probably the funnest football game I’ve ever played in,” McGarvey said. “There’s nothing better than Friday night lights— coming onto somebody else’s field and ruining their Friday night game. We wanted a big game, we wanted to make noise, and that’s exactly what we did.”