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Somers Wins at Tappan Zee

Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 by Robert Lombardo

ORANGEBURG — That Somers and Tappan Zee played a football game and it remained competitive well into the fourth quarter was surprising enough. That it hinged on one play with under two minutes left? Well, that seemed inconceivable as recently as Friday afternoon.

No more. After leading at halftime, Tappan Zee clung to Somers deep into the evening, scoring a stunning touchdown with 1:40 remaining to cut its deficit to a point. But the Dutchmen threw incomplete on the 2-point conversion, allowing Somers to survive 19-18 at Tappan Zee High School Friday night.

"We thought we were going to come out hard and we thought we were going to beat 'em," said Somers junior Joe Lombardo, who rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns. "We didn't expect that at all, but we kept playing them until the whistle."

Make that the final whistle. The Tuskers (2-0) trailed 12-7 at halftime after Tappan Zee controlled the clock, chewing up 16:03 of the half with its single-wing offense, which kept everyone guessing.

"I had never coached against that offense in all my years coaching," said Somers coach Tony DeMatteo, who's in his 42nd year as a varsity coach.

The Dutchmen (1-1) used that to their advantage. Brendan Kraemer threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Billy O'Shea. Then after C.J. Silva (13 carries, 118 yards) scored to give Somers a 7-6 lead, Tappan Zee's Joe Letizia hauled in a pass from Kevin Dinnegan for a 77-yard score.

Letizia, a junior, accounted for 130 yards of offense on just 12 touches in the first half. But he was stricken with cramps at halftime. Somers took advantage of Letizia's absence and its superior depth, grinding away, again, behind Lombardo and Silva, who propelled their team to a second-half rally against Rye last week.

Lombardo rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the second half to put his team up 19-12. He was among the backs grinding out the final minutes when Letizia limped back onto the field with under three minutes to play, only to shift the game — again.

On second-and-nine from the Tappan Zee 39, teammate Brendan Donahue wrapped up Somers' Stefano Bicknese in the backfield when Letizia swiped the ball and kept on running 55 yards for a shocking touchdown. It set up a 2-point conversion play that would've won the game. Letizia received the snap and rolled right with a run-pass option. But the pass fell incomplete, and Somers survived.

"It hurt," said Letizia, whose team spent last season in Section 1's alternative league. "I give it to Somers. They're a great team. But now everyone knows that Tappan Zee's no joke. We lost to Somers by one point. We'll get 'em next week."

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