RYE They jumped off stone more than 10 feet high. They crawled through bushes and down banks. They waded through thigh-deep water with helmets in hand as family and friends turned iPhones on the boys splashing in celebration.
Nine straight times, this rivalry tradition had belonged to Rye, but on a sun-splashed Saturday, it was Harrison — the team and, by extension, the town — that felt the murky waters of the Blind Brook after a victory.
The Huskies finally snapped years of futility against Rye, shutting down and shutting out the Garnets 21-0 in their regular-season finale at Nugent Stadium. They capped the afternoon in the brook, in the same footprints where Rye had danced a series-record nine straight times in this historic local rivalry, which dates to 1929.
The wait hadn’t been nearly as long for Brendan Pyne, but the freshman linebacker — a former Rye student who played two years of modified football — had the game’s biggest impact. He sacked former teammate Andrew Livingston four times and dragged down the Rye quarterback for an 11-yard loss on a first-quarter punt attempt.
“I was just trying to get in Andrew’s head,” said Pyne (No. 6, pictured below), who spent last year at IMG Academy in Florida. His father, George, is the president of IMG Sports and Entertainment. “We were good friends. It worked out. The blitzes, the play calls from coach (Art) Troilo, were perfect.”
“Like Sammy Maldonado — he’s that kind of kid,” Troilo said, referring to a Harrison star of years past. “He just played unbelievable. He had the best game as a freshman (against Rye) than anybody we’ve ever had.”
The defense limited Rye to just 107 yards. Cory Calcagni and Christian SantaMaria each had interceptions, and the Huskies totaled seven sacks.
Harrison (7-0) also rushed for 252 yards, led by Mike Amicucci’s 82 yards and two touchdowns and Kevin Nathanson’s 76 yards and a touchdown. Both broke through the middle of the defense for long touchdown runs in short-yardage situations for to give the Huskies a 14-0 halftime lead.
“Every play we were getting 10 yards, 12 yards,” Amicucci said. “We were breaking long runs. I really have to credit my linemen. They did a great job blocking.”
The Garnets (4-3) had two chances — once in each half — but couldn’t take advantage of them, or two Harrison turnovers.
“Nothing goes forever,” said Rye coach Dino Garr, whose teams hadn’t lost to Harrison since the 2002 postseason. “You’d like to think it does, but we know going into every season that what happened in the past, that’s history.”
With the streak finally stopped, Harrison now leads the all-time series 42-37-3.
“You have to have patience and perseverance,” Troilo said. “The people in our community have been great. “You can’t lose these big games. We needed to come and win this game, and we did.”
Harrison’s Robert Waldman: “We had such a good strategy coming into the game that we were confident. We just needed to execute it and we did. … If we were more stressed like we have been the past few years, we might have packed it in. I definitely think in the past in the second half we had been up, but we let up. Today, the fact that we were confident and loose really helped.”
Harrison coach Art Troilo: “We have a game plan and that’s what we did. We stuck to what we did all year. We didn’t want to be different. We thought we were better than they were this year.”
Harrison’s Mike Amicucci: “Nine years and we hadn’t won this game. Now, we won and we’ve had an undefeated season. This is huge going into the playoffs. It really does cap off the season.”
Team rushing: 41-252
Team passing: 3-17
First downs: 17
Turnovers: 2 (1 fumble lost)
Passing: Vin Nicita, 3-6, 17 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mike Amicucci, 9-82-2TD; Kevin Nathanson, 12-76-TD; Jake Marino, 9-61; Robert Waldman, 2-18; Vin Nicita, 8-11; Sandro LoMedico, 1-4.
Receiving: Kevin Nathanson, 1-9; Nick Pipitone, 1-5; Robert Waldman, 1-3.
Sacks: 7 (Brendan Pyne 4, Kevin Nathanson, Andrew Cappucci, Ryan Knox)
Interceptions: 2 (Christian Santa Maria, Cory Calcagni)
Team rushing: 28-14
Team passing: 6-93
First downs: 10
Turnovers: 3 (1 fumble lost)
Passing: Andrew Livingston, 6-23, 93 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT.
Rushing: Shane O’Malley, 6-21; Conor Murphy, 6-9; Chris Santangelo, 1-8; Lazarus Chavez, 1-3; Andrew Livingston, 14-(-27).
Receiving: Chris Santangelo, 2-37; Jack Hasselman, 2-35; Jimmy Dugan, 1-17; Shane O’Malley, 1-4.
Sacks: 1 (Lazarus Chavez)
Interceptions: 1 (Conor Murphy)
(Kudos to Frank Becerra for the outstanding photos)