Two rematches down, one to go.
Pleasantville and Lourdes booked their second game in three weeks—and second straight clash in the Class B championship—when they won in Friday night’s semifinals. Their night was tied by another common thread: Both beat teams they had lost to during the regular season.
No. 1-seeded Pleasantville shut out No. 4 Nanuet 28-0 behind another stellar defensive effort. The Panthers (7-1) limited the Nanuet offense to just two first downs behind strong play from John Tucci, Thomas Marrone and Josh Della Puca, among others.
All of Pleasantville helped accomplish a stark turnaround from the regular season meeting, which was won, 9-6, by Nanuet. Anthony Godino was sharp, rushing for a 46-yard touchdown and connecting with Greg Drillock on another score. Della Puca and Enrico Ruotolo each added touchdowns on the ground.
“You rarely get a second chance, especially in high school football,” Pleasantville coach Tony Becerra said. “To a man, everyone was saying they wanted to see them again. We lost by three points (last time). It was ugly. Not only did we get to see them again, we got to do it in the playoffs with our season on the line.”
The offense converted three times on third down and were particularly effective running the ball with Godino. He and senior James Leyden helped give the Panthers a 9-0 halftime lead. (Leyden kicked a field goal.) Becerra reminded his team that it held the same lead in last year’s championship game before ultimately losing to favored Lourdes 14-9. (Click here for a recap.)
“Again, the defense stepped up and didn’t disappoint,” he said.
Lourdes needed to score late to win against Ardsley Friday night, but the defending champ delivered. The second-seeded Warriors ripped off three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat No. 3 Ardsley 27-23.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Dean Rotger connected with Andrew Bulson on a screen pass that went five yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Bryce Gioia also rushed for two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help bring Lourdes within 21-18.
George DiFiore rushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter to break open a tie game and give Ardsley a 21-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. After Lourdes’ go-ahead touchdown, Joe DeGuardia was intercepted by Chris Keenan to end Ardsley’s last threat.
The Panthers had beat Lourdes 28-22 on Oct. 5.
“We are very proud to be in the championship game for the third year in a row,” Lourdes coach Brian Walsh told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “We are coming off a tough loss last week. We have to make the best of it and make corrections.”
That loss the Warriors suffered last week came at home against none other than Pleasantville, 15-7, with the No. 1 seed on the line. The Panthers won despite not scoring an offensive touchdown, thanks in large part to their special teams.
Both teams will have a rematch for the second straight week.
“Last year we played both Nanuet and Lourdes twice. We’re doing the same thing this year,” Becerra said. “The kids are riding high with a ton of confidence. It’s just a matter of game-planning for them.
“Nanuet is a good matchup for us because we both have the same style of play. Lourdes is difficult because they have so much speed.”
Pleasantville might have to play without arguably its best weapon, Leyden, who suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Leyden—a kicker, punter, linebacker and receiver—was hit after unleashing a punt in the third quarter. Becerra said Leyden was expected to receive X-rays Friday night.