KINGSTON – Throughout the regular season, the Huguenots had beaten Huskies. Vanquished Raiders and Blazers. And in the Section 9 Class B final, the New Paltz High School football team ended a dynasty built by Iron Dukes.
But when the Huguenots reached the Class B region finals Friday at Dietz Stadium, they struggled to tame a pack of Panthers.
Facing Section 1 champion Pleasantville, the Huguenots lost 56-20. New Paltz ended the season at 8-2 and fell short in collecting its first win in regional play.
“I think we played a great first half, but first half’s not good enough,” said New Paltz coach Tom Tegeler. “(Pleasantville) was very physical, they were dominating the offensive line late in the game and then we got exhausted. They had a lot of guys who play one way. But compliment to them. They’re a very physical, strong team.”
Pleasantville led by two points at halftime, and created some distance nearly halfway through the third frame. With the Huguenots pinned in their own territory, Ian Esliker sacked quarterback Jimmy Verney, causing a fumble.
Nicholas Salzarulo scooped up the ball and brought it back for a touchdown, giving Pleasantville a 29-20 edge. Later in the frame, Declan McDermott had a 75-yard touchdown run.
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Ahead by 16 entering the fourth, Pleasantville scored 20 unanswered points.
“We started falling apart in the second half,” Verney said. “We weren’t playing together, we were getting in our own heads. Obviously not the way we wanted it to end. But it’s our own fault. We can’t blame anybody but ourselves.”
However, the game didn’t start with Pleasantville domination.
Trailing by six, the Panthers took the lead for good on a touchdown carry by McDermott with 8:25 left in the half. New Paltz later turned the ball over on a fumble, which set up the Panthers on the Huguenots’ 18. Charlie McPhee eventually took it in from the goal line. The Panthers then converted for two, getting eight points off the turnover and giving themselves a nine-point lead.
But the Huguenots were far from finished.
Verney returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a score to make it 22-20 at the half.
Verney also connected with Joey DiMarco on a 51-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, which gave the Huguenots a 13-7 lead.
The Huguenots had tied it at seven in the first when Hunter McVea scored on a 60-yard touchdown run.
Pleasantville scored the game’s first points on its first drive. From the goal line, Ryan Drillock punched it in to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Charles Davis, a New Paltz alumnus and NFL on FOX analyst, attended the game as a spectator. Davis set the Huguenots up with a segment on the FOX NFL pregame show, which will air on Sunday.
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports