SPRING VALLEY, N.Y.— Even though the Mahopac Indians gave league rivals Carmel and John Jay-East Fishkill all they could handle, they came up empty to find themselves back at .500.
Changing that with a supercharged defensive effort on the road, Mahopac smothered Spring Valley, 21-7, on Sept. 30, to improve its points allowed per game to just 11.6.
“We did a very good job stopping their run-game,” Mahopac coach Dominick DeMatteo said. “We were very sound. Overall, I was very pleased with our defensive effort. We’ve been performing fairly well on defense all year.”
Senior kick returner Sal Marchionni supplied the initial push by legging the opening kick-off past midfield. After slowly knifing through the Tiger defense, the Indians capitalized on junior running back Tim Cegielski’s 11-yard touchdown scamper.
An interception by senior Joe Dalo handed them exceptional field position once again with a 7-0 edge early in the first quarter.
Launching a shot downfield, senior quarterback Ryan Dugan spotted junior wide-out Reahl Allen for a leaping 25-yard touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone.
From there until halftime, the two teams exchanged defensive stands as the Indians led 13-0. Allen picked off the last pass of the half, which was a rifle headed toward the end zone.
The lack of offensive explosiveness finally stopped with a bang in the beginning of the fourth quarter, when senior Chris Dalo made a superb diving touchdown snag off a 27-yard sling from Dugan.
Cegielski bowled forward for the 2-point conversion to securely put Mahopac ahead by 21 points.
A botched snap set the Tigers up deep inside Indian territory with three minutes left. Spring Valley jumped on the opportunity, rolling in a rushing touchdown to save its breath.
Upon reeling in their ensuing onside-kick attempt, the Tigers gained some confidence.
Junior Drew Riolo took it all away after intercepting the team’s third pass and galloping deep down the field to wrap it up.
Senior John Dignam, Riolo, Allen and Joe Dalo each broke up a pass in the unified effort.
Causing havoc to Tiger quarterback Xavier Miles for most of the contest, juniors Anthony Perricone and Joe Harney sacked him once. Senior Martin Ventura and Dignam tallied a half-sack apiece.
Dugan was the definition of efficient, connecting on 12 of 16 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Allen led the receivers with four receptions for 56 yards. Chris Dalo caught two throws for 35 yards. Six other Indians caught a pass each.
“Our passing game was very sound,” DeMatteo said. “We did a very good job protecting (Dugan). The line did a very good job. Not only were we efficient, but we made some really big plays that led to points.”
The running game was evenly distributed too, as Marchionni led all backs with 42 yards on 11 carries. Cegielski penciled 27 yards on 10 touches. Returning from injury, senior Alex DiCioccio took five carries for 21 yards.
“We have momentum as a team right now,” DeMatteo said. “The two losses to John Jay and Carmel were not as heartbreaking as people might think because we played well. It gave the kids confidence in playing both of those opponents so tight and picked up the intensity in practice this week.”
Mahopac (3-2) is scheduled for its final league game at Roy C. Ketcham on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. The plan is to win and earn a higher seed for the following week’s playoff qualifying game, which the Indians would love to play for in front of their own fans.
“That would be very, very exciting for the community,” DeMatteo said.