The dominance was complete, as New Paltz took the opening kickoff and marched 61 yards in 14 plays before stalling at the Marlboro 10-yard line. And it was all on the ground against the Dukes heralded defense, with Darryl Clark gaining 37 yards on six carries, Pete Ferrante 16 on two carries, Jon Diaz eight on two carries and fullback Tom Covino two on his only carry, but like two weeks ago -- in their 13-0 loss to undefeated Marlboro -- when the Huguenots marched right through the Dukes on their opening drive of the game only to stall out inside the red zone, the Marlboro defense stiffened once again. And with a fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Chris Mazzei was wide right on his 27-yard field goal attempt.
Was this going to be a case of serial deja vu? Dominate the early going and don’t score a point? I think the thought crossed the mind of the New Paltz faithful. And like two weeks ago Marlboro went three-plays-and-out with the big-legged Greg Carnazza lining up to punt from his own goalline. But this time was different, as New Paltz’s freshman wunderkind Khariff Laboy gathered in Carnazza’s booming kick at his own 24-yard line and nearly broke it, tripped up along the far sideline after a 30-yard runback. Then Laboy took the first-down handoff from Kyle Januskiewicz and swept around the left side and flashed 46-yards for the score. And just like that (snap of fingers), the game two weeks ago became a distant memory. New Paltz was up 7-0 after the Mazzei point after at 2:36 of the first quarter, and essentially it was game over.
New Paltz’s Pete Ferrante intercepted Vinny Pocelli’s first-down pass and the Huguenots were in business again at the Marlboro 25. But once again the brave-hearted Marlboro defense tightened and with a fourth-and-seven from the Dukes 22, Mazzei’s 39-yard field goal attempt was wide left. But once again Marlboro could do nothing offensively, setting a pattern for the rest of the half, as Carnazza and New Paltz’s Erik Simonson exchanged punts. The half ended 7-0 New Paltz.
The first series of the second-half was all important for Marlboro, just as it was two weeks ago, when the Dukes -- dominated like in this game, offensively -- went 60-something yards in 15 plays to break a then 0-0 tie. This time was different. Starting on their own 30-yard line, Ben Carey, the Dukes’ workhorse running back -- who scored that touchdown two weeks ago and rushed for over 100 yards -- was stopped for a one-yard loss by Tom Covino. TJ Henderson got that yard back, but Porcelli’s pass to Alex Baglieri fell incomplete on third-down and Carnazza once again punted it away. And taking over on the Marlboro 45 it was four-straight Darryl Clark runs for 16 yards, and then after Diaz was dropped for a two-yard loss, it was “enter Laboy”, and the speed-burner proceeded to break-off an 18-yard run to the Marlboro 19. It took six more plays for Januskiewicz to tunnel in for the score from the one-half-yard line -- the big play Ferrante’s nine-yard bullish-run to the goalline -- as, with Mazzei’s missed extra point, it was now 13-0 New Paltz at 3:52 of the third quarter.
Once again Marlboro could do absolutely nothing with the ball, with Carnazza once again having to punt the ball away to the New Paltz 42. Clark was held to no gain on first down, but on second down Januskiewicz aired it out, throwing deep downfield toward wideout Chad Wells -- covered perfectly by Marlboro defensive back Mike Tamburri -- with Wells outleaping Tamburri for the ball at the 20 and racing into the end zone. It was “game over”. But New Paltz was penalized for an illegal man (a lineman) downfield and the killer-play was called back. The quarter ended with Simonson kicking the ball away, but for Marlboro it was way too late. At the beginning of the fourth quarter the Dukes had amassed a grand total of seven (7) yards of offense, with no (none, zero, 0) first downs.
Marlboro, who for some strange reason -- besides that New Paltz was keying on him -- eschewed Carey getting his hands on the ball, finally decided to use their top player, as Porcelli hit him with a four-yard pass. Then it was Carey stopped again by Covino for a one-yard loss, and then on a third-and-seven, it was Carey again, but for just a one-yard gain as he was swarmed by the New Paltz defense, and it was “enter Carnazza” once again for his seventh punt of the game.
Marlboro’s only first down and biggest play came midway through the fourth quarter when Porcelli hit wideout Willie Brown on a crossing pattern for 26 yards to the New Paltz 11-yard line, but once again the impregnable New Paltz defense -- led by Covino, Jon Schmitt, Kyle Roberts, the Ferrante’s (Pete and John), Diaz, et al -- stopped the Dukes cold, holding them to one yard in four plays. Any chance that Marlboro would or could rally was officially declared non-existent.
New Paltz had won their third Section 9 title in head coach Tom Tegeler’s 10-year run, the last one three years ago. Laboy led the Huguenots with 81 yards rushing in only six attempts, with Clark gaining 61 in 14 carries and Ferrante -- who was chosen as the Offensive Player-of-the Game -- 59 in 19. Carey led the Dukes with 15 yards on just five carries, but was chosen Defensive Player-of-the-Game.
New Paltz hosts Section 1 champion Croton in a Regional Final this Friday at 7 p.m. at Dietz Stadium.