SCARSDALE, N.Y. - From the opening play to the final seconds, this game was full of big plays and excitement with two teams trading scores on the gridiron.
Mahopac celebrated first, but unfortunately for the Indians, Scarsdale celebrated last as the host Raiders scored a touchdown with 18 seconds left to play to pull out a 33-28 victory.
Scarsdale moves on to the Section 1 Class AA semifinals as the No. 4 seed Raiders halted the No. 7 seed Indians playoff hopes.
“In this case, there’s a big difference between disappointment and regret,” Mahopac coach Tom Donahoe said. “This was disappointment in a loss, but no regrets in having the best effort from every kid on the field. Both teams executed very well, and like they say, it was a case of whoever has the ball last wins.”
It didn’t take long for Mahopac to set the tone as the visiting Indians took the opening kick off and Joe Cavaciuti returned it to the 35-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Dan Foley connected with Dillon McDonough on a 65-yard touchdown pass and Mahopac led 7-0 after John Vellek converted the PAT.
“We wanted to get Danny a play he was comfortable with,” Donahoe said of the first play. “The theme all week was to be aggressive in all phases of the game. That call was aggressive and they executed it very well.”
Scarsdale answered right back as the Raiders drove down the field and tied the score at 7-7 on a 15-yard touchdown carry from quarterback Michael Rolfe.
Now it was Mahopac’s turn to answer and the Indians did on their ensuing drive. First, Foley connected with Christian Donahoe on a big pass play down to the Scarsdale 31 yard line. Cavaciuti then broke free for a 25-yard run down to the Scarsdale six-yard line. Two plays later Cavaciuti carried it in from one yard out to make the score 14-7.
The pattern was set as Scarsdale then answered with a 52-yard touchdown run from fullback Stephen Nicholas to tie the score up at 14-14 with 3:25 left in the half.
Scarsdale came out in the second half hoping to grab hold of the momentum, but Mahopac’s Vellek was able to recover a fumble to stop the Raiders drive. Two plays later Donahoe broke free on a 60-yard touchdown run for a 20-14 lead as the PAT attempt was blocked.
The Raiders took their first lead of the game three minutes later as they converted on a big fourth down and one play with Rolfe breaking free for a 45-yard touchdown run and a 21-20 lead after the PAT.
Mahopac then came up with another big play on defense as Jonathan Jacklett intercepted a pass to halt a Scarsdale drive deep in Mahopac territory.
The Indians then suffered a big blow as Donahoe went down with an injury on the first play of the fourth quarter. He would try to return, but it was a big loss on both sides of the ball for the Indians as he suffered a broken rib.
His teammates responded as Cavaciuti broke loose on a 60-yard carry to the end zone for his second touchdown run of the game. Foley then connected with Cavaciuti on a two-point conversion pass to give Mahopac a 28-21 lead.
Once again, Scarsdale answered as Nick Leone scored on a 23-yard carry, but the Raiders missed the PAT and Mahopac held a 28-27 lead with 6:29 left in the game.
Scarsdale would get one last chance with a drive that started at the Raiders 15-yard line with just two minutes left to play. The Raiders capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rolfe to Sam Squadron with just 18 second left in the game for a 33-28 lead.
Mahopac had one last chance as Foley completed a long pass to midfield, but the Indians ran out of time.
“Guys were totally exhausted on both sides,” Donahoe added. “It was tough having a touchdown called back, and we had to shuffle the deck again in the fourth quarter when Christian went down on the first play. It was a challenge for kids to play different positions against a disciplined team, but they responded with a great effort.”
Mahopac will now host rival Carmel on Friday, Oct. 30, in the season finale.