John Jay tops Yorktown in Homecoming Thriller, 27-25
CROSS RIVER – It’s a homecoming night that John Jay-Cross River will remember forever, and a game Yorktown can’t wait to forget.
In a battle of Section 1 Class A title contenders, with a large crowd on hand to watch the first home game in two years, Wolves emerged victorious on Friday night, winning 27-25.
“It’s really special, I’m going to remember it all my life,” said Tyler Paladino, senior to John Jay. “Being here with my brothers and shooting a ‘W’ just means the world.… I thought our team was running on both sides of the ball – defense, attack. We make a save, then our attack was on a Roll over and that’s exactly what we do on offense. They can’t stop us on offense. “
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In a game that featured a total of five lead changes, five turnovers, five fourth-down saves and a draw, Wolves’ unique offense provided the scoring keys to keep them in the home-and-back battle.
Although the imposing Craig Galea is the team’s main passer, John Jay can place a variety of players in the center and frequently alternate between their athletic talents.
“It poses so many problems for the defenses,” said John Jay junior Chris DiChiara. “I don’t really know how they can line up with us. The defenses won’t know if it will be me in QB, Tyler, Craig – it can be anyone. We can throw from every formation, run and we just have so many options. “
Yorktown has had its fair share of playmakers as well, with Marco McKnight and Justin Meyereles breaking free for some great racing games.
Both teams were even offensively, amassing 363 yards each. However, John Jay’s defense appeared to make a few more key saves, and penalties and errors hampered the Huskers.
Wolves had a goal line in the last play of the first half to maintain their 14-13 lead.
They also ended the Huskers’ two-point conversion attempt after a McKnight touchdown reduced the Wolves lead to 27-25 with 8:59 remaining in the game.
“It was a war and we just failed, but the kids played hard and gave me everything they had,” Yorktown coach Pantelis Ypsilantis said. “… (The penalties and the mistakes) were tough. Playing sloppy when it matters most is tough, but that’s me. I want us to have the confidence to run in these situations and take what is right in front of us and not having these mental mistakes. We just have to keep working on that. “
Despite the setbacks, the Huskers had the chance to get one last practice after stopping the Wolves. They worked deep into John Jay’s territory and converted to fourth to keep the momentum alive. However, a stray slam backed Yorktown and resulted in a 29-yard loss to give him a second-and-39 situation to overcome.
The Wolves defense held on and hung on to win the game.
After failing in the Section 1 Class A regional bowl last season, the Wolves are looking to be back in the title hunt later this fall. They’ll be looking to capitalize on the thrilling victory, and that might be the spark they needed to propel themselves forward.
They may have stumbled in a season-opening shootout with Lourdes, but they’re hoping that will be their only flaw for the rest of the year.
“I think we’ll continue to ride from here,” Paladino said. “I don’t think we’ll lose again for the rest of the season.”
There were two notable moments in a game that saw a lot of momentum jumps.
The first was just before half-time, when Wolves stuffed the Huskers for a goal line to maintain their 14-13 lead at halftime.
The second came towards the end. After a big fourth down sack to gain possession, the Huskers carefully led down the field and even overcame a 2nd and 33rd situation. However, a bad snap reduced their momentum and resulted in a 2nd and 39, and the ball was returned to their own territory. Yorktown was unable to pull it off and John Jay was able to stop the Huskers for the win.
Tyler Paladino, John Jay-Cross River: Of all the different players who had their turns at quarterback, Paladino seemed to cause the Huskers the most trouble. He had key early tries and game-changing touchdowns. He finished with 127 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
By the numbers
John Jay-Cross River (2-1) – Craig Galea had 13 of 18 for 143 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also added 23 rushing yards. Chris DiChiara ran for 65 yards and 17 carries. Austin Zaccagnino caught five passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Yorktown (1-2) – Marco McKnight racked up 221 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Justin Meyereles ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He also completed 6 of 16 passes for 32 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Jack Carlin. Vincent Cappelli caught a pass from John Jay in defense. The Huskers were handed 14 penalties for 110 yards.
“We just stayed calm,” Paladino said. “At halftime we had a great discussion about how huge the last stop at the goal line before half time was. It was the winning stop. We really performed from there. “
John Jay to host Mahopac on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Yorktown to host rival Somers on Friday at 7 p.m.
Follow Eugène Rapay on Twitter at @ erapay5 and on Instagram at @byeugenerapay.