RYE – Mat Bruno is known as playmaking receiver and star linebacker on the football field, and a slugging outfielder on the baseball diamond.
On Friday night, he stepped into a more unfamiliar role, but the results were pretty much the same.
The Rye senior was called on to play quarterback after starter T.J. Lavelle went down with a minor shoulder injury, and he guided the Garnets to a relatively stress-free 27-9 win over Eastchester.
“Last year, I was the wildcat guy at quarterback,” he said. “When we needed short yardage or a spark on offense, I would come in and run the ball a little bit. But today I had no idea I was going to play quarterback. T.J. went down and he wasn’t that bad – he’s going to come back next week – but when the time comes, I have to step up.”
Bruno simply had to manage the game with Rye already leading 21-9 when he took over early in the second half, although he did complete a 33-yard pass to Dusty Mion on one of his six attempts.
Lavelle helped the Garnets (4-0) get their first three scores by running for an 11-yard touchdown and completing three passes of 30 yards or more, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Brett Egan just before halftime.
The touchdown pass extended Rye’s lead to 21-9 less than two minutes after Eastchester’s Mark Cacciola ran for a 6-yard score.
“That was huge to make it a two-possession game,” junior Will Tepedino said. “That was gigantic.”
Player of the game: Will Tepedino, Rye — The junior running back was responsible for two of the Garnets’ four touchdowns, including a 38-yard score in the first quarter. He finished with 96 yards on 10 carries.
“The O-line did it all for me,” he said. “I’m just running the ball.”
Turning point: With Eastchester (2-2) driving early in the second quarter, Rye junior Peter Chabot grabbed an interception inside of Rye’s 10-yard line to halt the Eagles’ momentum.
“Our defense came up clutch,” Bruno said. “We have all season. Whenever there’s a situation that requires us to step up, we do – in the red zone especially.”
Quotable: “We’ve got a tough game coming up against Brewster,” Bruno said. “That’s going to be one of the toughest games of the season, and that’s going to prove what kind of team we are. Are we hard-workers? Or are we lazy? Brewster has a good program and we have to come ready to play.”