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Tuskers lose hard fought game in 2nd OT

Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 by Robert Lombardo

FOOTBALL — Through four games, John Jay's talented offense had racked up 158 points. But through three and a half quarters against a tough Somers defense, the Indians only mustered seven points Oct. 9 at John Jay High.

But they came to life before it was too late. After forcing overtime on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hime Rraci to Jay Smith with 1:27 left in the fourth to tie the game, the Indians pulled out a 24-23 thriller in double overtime after Jake Weil blocked an extra point.

"When it came down to crunch time, the kids really performed and persevered," John Jay Head Coach Jimmy Clark said. "That's really important for us to see that we can win a close game and be able to fight back and beat a good team."

John Jay (4-1) had the ball first in the second overtime, and in only two plays, Danny Caiola scored from 9-yards out to put the pressure on the Tuskers and give John Jay a 24-17 lead.

"It's the best moment of my life," Caiola said of the win.

Somers faced a fourth-and-11 in the second OT when Anthony Lombardo (9 for 18, 188 yards) found Chris Silva on a pass over the middle to get the Tuskers down to the 3. D.J. Giuntini (18 carries, 68 yards) then found the end zone on a 1-yard run.

The teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime. Somers' Tom Barcia booted a 37-yard field goal, followed by a 25-yard field goal by Jimmy Morris.

Rraci, who was 18 for 28 for 146 yards, displayed plenty of poise on the fourth-quarter TD drive.

"He kept his composure and made great decisions," Clark said of Rraci, a senior. "We were able to make the plays when we needed them. For him to come out and take the team down at the end of a game, and get a win — that's going to go a long way for our season."

On the touchdown pass to Smith, Rraci was almost sacked, but just got away to find a wide open Smith.

"I was rolling out, I saw the blitz and thought I was going to get sacked," Rraci said. "But he (Smith) threw his arms up and I just chucked it out."

After the Indians tied it up, the Tuskers went three-and-out, giving John Jay one final chance in regulation. But Kevin Murray intercepted a deep pass by Rraci to send the game into OT.

Somers took a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter when Lombardo connected with Silva on a 74-yard touchdown pass.

To drop a close game on a blocked extra point was crushing for the Tuskers.

"It's really tough to lose in that fashion but that was not what lost the game," said Lombardo, who rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries. "We had many opportunities to win the game but we didn't capitalize. We still need to learn how to play a full game and finish good teams in tough games."

The Indians had some missed opportunities throughout the game. Early in the third quarter, Brian Kass (six carries, 59 yards) fumbled at the 1-yard line and Giuntini recovered. Dropped passes also plagued them throughout the contest.

"We didn't play with a whole lot of poise early on," Clark said. "We struggled. Coach [Tony] DeMatteo had a great game plan that forced us to play a little sloppy."

But John Jay overcame those struggles.

"It shows that we've got a lot of heart," Rraci said. "I love these kids. We really battled all night and we came out on top."

Somers (3-2) had missed opportunities of its own. After a Rob Mendoza interception, the Tuskers fumbled and John Jay's Roby Vroman pounced on the ball in the second quarter.

Giuntini answered a Rraci first-quarter touchdown run with a 5-yard TD of his own with 6:37 to go in the first half. The squads were tied 7-7 at halftime.

"They were a really good team," Rraci said of Somers. "They played tough, they were physical and very well coached. For us to come out in double overtime and pull one out, it feels amazing."

John Jay put a tremendous amount of pressure on Lombardo throughout the game. Caiola and Lucas Myer each had three sacks, while Vroman, Weil, Kass and Jimmy O'Reilly each had one.

Somers' defense was led by Giuntini with 10 tackles, while Mendoza, Kieran Donohue, Lombardo and David Arturi each had eight.

The Tuskers face a do-or-die situation this week: they will battle Lakeland (2-3) for the final Class A playoff spot Oct. 15.

"We know it is now or never," Lombardo said. "Our first playoff game starts this week."

The win gives John Jay plenty of momentum heading into Week 6, and they'll need it against an undefeated Poughkeepsie squad Oct. 16.

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