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Somers outlasts Rye

Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 by Robert Lombardo

SOMERS, N.Y. — Class A in Section 1 football is annually a test of attrition. The champion at the end of the season isn’t always the best team, just the one that survived one of the state’s most rigorous conferences.

Consider Somers the early front-runner in the 2011 Class A marathon — at least after opening night. Because not only did the Tuskers post an impressive victory over Rye at home on Friday, they did it with a championship-caliber physicality, depth and resiliency.

Somers went deep into its bench, outmuscled the Garnets up front and used two fourth-quarter touchdowns to come back for a 28-20 victory in a game that aired on MSG Varsity’s “Friday Night Live” broadcast.

“These kids aren’t quitters. I love that,” Somers coach Tony DeMatteo said. “We technically didn’t play well in the first half. But we came back so I’m happy.

C.J. Silva rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns, and junior fullback Joe Lombardo punched in the clinching score with under six minutes to play.

Rye, which lost as the No. 1 seed to Somers in the opening round of last year’s Class A playoffs, took a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter when Teddy Ice returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Ice had caught a touchdown pass from Jake Meyerson in the first half.

“I pointed to the clock,” DeMatteo said, “and said ‘Hey, there’s still four minutes to go in the third quarter. Let’s settle down and just play ball.’ That was it.”

Somers began to wear down Rye in the late in the third. It drove 54 yards in five plays with Silva bolting for a 6-yard touchdown to tie it. After a Garnets put to start the fourth, the Tuskers 77 yards in four plays — thanks to back-to-back 36-yard runs by Silva and Lombardo — to set up Silva’s third score, 1-yarder.

The majority of the Tuskers’ yardage in the second half came between the tackles and they won the battle at the line of scrimmage.

“We realized they were geared to stop us from going outside. So we went inside,” DeMatteo said.

Good field position led to Lombardo’s touchdown with 5:51 left, extending Somers’ lead to 28-14.

With Meyerson out with cramps, Rye freshman quarterback Andrew Livingston guided the offense down the field. He was 3 of 4 on a 79-yard scoring drive with a 21-yard completion to Ice setting up a Joe Simolacaj 2-yard touchdown run.

Rye, though, couldn’t recover the onside-kick with 1:33 left as Somers held on for the victory.

Somers got significant contributions defensively from linebackers David Arturi, Lombardo and Stefano Bicknese. Defensive end Peter Mueller was also vital up front.

As impressive as Friday’s win was for the Tuskers, they understand there’s a long season ahead.

“The way I look at it, it was an important win — but it didn’t mean anything for the playoffs,” DeMatteo said of the non-league matchup. “So the rest of the games now mean everything. Those are the important ones.”

Email Kevin Devaney Jr.: kdevaney@cablevision.com

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