Three feet separated White Plains from a winning field goal with no time left Saturday. With the extra point needed to tie in OT, the equalizer slipped agonizingly just left, and New Rochelle won, 21-20, in a steamy fall classic in the Queen City of the Sound.
White Plains grit, guile, guts, and relentless pursuit held the mobile monster Huguenot squad (unofficially about 300 yards rushing) to just 7 points deep into the fourth quarter.
The wild contest turned on a questionable holding call on a White Plains 2nd and 4, Spencer Ridenhour diveplay into the line at the NR 35, in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter. The holding (in a pile up) penalty stalled the Tigers, pushing them back to a 1st and 15 on the 45. The Tigers were, at the time of the penalty, moving, going for the clinching touchdown that could have given them a 2-TD lead.
TIGER-HUGUENOT ACTION ON THE 50: New Rochelle driving on the Tigers at midfield early in the fourth quarter in the Queen City. WPCNR PHOTO
The setback forced the Tigers eventually to turn the ball over on downs, with Orlando Cruz’s magnificent hanging punt forcing New Rochelle to take over at their own 20. New Rochelle proceeded for a game-tying drive, characterized by the big rambling running plays the Purple Gang had been giving the Tiger secondary fits with all game long.
Big Plays Trick Tigers All Day
A 26-yard run by Terry Watts gave NR a first on the Tiger 42, and Wilson Moronta saved a touchdown snagging the rambling, but butterfingered NRQB, Nat Yehuda (4 fumbles by our count) at the Tiger 22. NR tied the game when the Tigers almost had them stopped on 4th and 3 from the 15.
The Orange and Black, expecting the formidable Huguenot sweep, grabbing big-time yardage all afternoon, pinched the ends, and there was no one in the middle to stop Joe Loscalzo on a delayed draw, racing15 yards up the gut, untouched for the touchdown.The PAT tied the game at 14-14 with 5 minutes to go.
Then the fun started.
After an exchange, White Plains took over on the New Rochelle 47 with about 2 minutes to go. With a 4th and 5 on the NR 38, Darrell Mack hit Wilson Moronta on a flat pass. He went up with 4 purple jerseys surrounding him and feathered the ball into in his belly with two hands just like George Sauer, and fought to the Huguenot 28.
Three running plays failed, bringing another 4th and 10. Mack lofted an Alley Oop right flatter to Jeff Lee down the near sideline, who leapt way high, fell to earth, catching the pass on his back for a first down on the 10. It was a highlight reeler!
Three feet from an Instant Win
Spencer Ridenhour, (who had another gritty 158 yards rushing on 31 trips, 5 yards a carry — they should call him Run-An-Hour), moved it up the middle to the 6. With no timeouts, and seconds left, Mack spiked the ball, stopping the clock at 2 seconds.
IT’S UP! IT’S LONG ENOUGH, IT’S ON TARGET…AND IT IS: No good..just wide to the left. A field goal that just missed almost gave White Plains the win in regulation Saturday afternoon. Orlando Cruz gIves it great leg on a very difficult angle. WPCNR PHOTO
Orlando Cruz set up for a field goal try, about a 28-yard attempt on the right hash. The kick was up, it looked good, it was long enough but it hooked in the open end of the stadium and went about three feet wide about 10 feet from the upright, missing by a yard. It was close, folks. Very close.
Cruz had a terrific kicking day. Just a junior, he is going to be a terrific offensive weapon with his kicking ability. His punts Saturday were clutch, deliberate, consistent, high hanging, well-placed that made the New Rochelle overland game stoppable for the defense.
New Rochelle won the toss and took the ball on the Tiger 20. White Plains stopped them on their first three plays. Then, the big New Rochelle play took the game away. On 4th and 4 from the Bengal 22, the Huguenots reversed their tying touchdown play, and Anthony Rice rambled around the left end, with terrific blocking to put the Purple Gang up 20-14. The point was successful.
The Tigers Come Back
Most teams would be through at this time. Not White Plains. In their chance to score, starting 20 yards away, the Tigers went with Ridenhour up the middle for 4 yards, and up the middle again for 3 to the 12. Then he was stopped right there. On yet another 4th down do-or-don’t play, Mack hit Jeff McCoy over the middle and he scampered to the Huguenot 3 for another incredible 4th down conversion.
With goal to go, on his third ram up the middle, Spencer Ridenhour, the sophomore, was literally jammed into the end zone from behind by his people and, amazingly, it was 21-20.
GOING FOR THE TIE.IT’S DOWN, IT’S UP AND IT IS…:Just wide. A White Plains assistant with a view from the sideline, said the angle made it look very confusing, but in his opinion it was just wide left by inches. Tony Ciaramella Jr. prepares to kick.< WPCNR PHOTO
Tony Ciaramella tried for the PAT to tie. It was not to be. Everyone in the east stands thought he had made the kick, it was that close. The kick was solid, perhaps a little too solid, and was waved off just, I mean, just wide left. Huguenot helmets sailed to the sky in celebration, and one of the great fall classics was over.
Great first half,
White Plains Spencer Ridenhour broke off tackle racing 65 yards for the first touchdown on the Tigers third play from scrimmage to stake the Tigers to a 6-0 lead. However, New Rochelle with three major running threats went 65 yards in 5 plays to tie the game 7-7 with Joe Loscalzo bulling up the middle from the 10 for the tie-up touchdown.
The Tigers drove from their 41 to the Huguenot 5, but could not push it in for any points and NR took over at the 5 as the first quarter ended, 7-7.
Ryan Smalls sacked New Rochelle’s Quarterback, Nathaniel Yahudah and stripped him of the ball, recovering the loose ball on the New Rochelle 15at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter. This set up White Plains to take the lead.
Ridenhour ripped up the middle to the 10. Mack gave it to him again for another 4, and again for a first down on the 6. On the next play, the indefatigable socking soph, went over tackle again for the go-ahead touchdown. Ciaramella converted and White Plains had a 14-7 halftime lead.
TIGERS GIVE THEM ALL THEY CAN HANDLE: Tigers trudge slowly off the field in the llong shadows of the first day of autumn. They were saddened but determined and proud as they looked to next week.WPCNR PHOTO
Solid on both sides of the ball
The Tiger defense played a tremendous game, yielding big yardage between the 20s but making big plays to force, unofficially 7 turnovers. The Tigers got to the NR quarterback six times, causing 4 fumbles that stalled New Rochelle drives. Though the rambling backs and massive New Rochelle linemen pushed the Tigers back on their heels the first half, the Tigers adjusted well. Tiger conditioning was terrific on this sticky, humid day, which caused sweaty palms and a number of fumbles.
The Dee is learning
The defense was befuddled on many plays by the New Rochelle reversals of directions and superbly choreographed plays that suckered the dee one way only to go another. There were so many big plays that New Rochelle ran when they needed them. However, to the Tigers’ credit they staged two goal line stands in both halves, pursued relentlessly, the corners moving from one side of the field to the other on virtually every New Rochelle play to stop their bag of tricks.
The O is coming together
The offense moved the ball well against a bigger New Rochelle line. They nearly won the game twice. Darrell Mack is a sharp passer with solid receivers to throw to when in trouble. The kid is not afraid to throw into traffic (against a tall NR secondary, he threaded needles, when he was allowed to throw and passed smart with his head, not his heart.) He has got a good sense when to take a sack and when to throw it away.
A better mix of passing and running would make the relentless Ridenhour, whom we will have the pleasure of watching get better and better, an even greater threat. They should also consider throwing to Ridenhour downfield. This 50-yardline Byline would love to see Mack throw to Ridenhour in the flat. Let’s use those receivers Jeff Lee, Jeff McCoy, Wilson Moronta,and Eric Dickey, a little more, please.
White Plains is back home in Parker Stadium next Saturday to play Ramapo. Y’all come on out. Kickoff is at 1:30 PM.