SOMERS, N.Y. – The evening before Somers’ Week 3 game with Rye, Somers coach Tony DeMatteo called his shot at the Tuskers’ team dinner.
“Tomorrow night will be the greatest [regular] season win of my career in 51 years,” he told his team. “Rye’s going down.”
He sure was right.
Somers rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to pull off a stunning 28-24 victory over the favored Garnets on Sept. 20 at home.
The comeback started when junior Nate Rosenzweig dashed 25 yards for a touchdown with 57 seconds left in the third quarter. Alex Cabo’s kick split the uprights to cut the deficit to 24-14.
Following a Rye three-and-out, Jack Kaiser cut the deficit to just three points when he ran in a 39-yard touchdown down the left sideline with 10:51 to go. Kaiser finished with 152 yards rushing on 26 carries and three touchdowns.
The Tuskers then methodically moved down the field on their final possession. They capped off a 15-play, 66-yard drive with a Kaiser 2-yard score with just 18.9 seconds left. Cabo’s kick made it 28-24.
Rye had one last chance, but Rosenzweig intercepted Declan Lavelle’s pass. Somers took a knee to end it and DeMatteo and his players made a beeline for the stands to celebrate with “Tusker Nation.”
“I just saw there were two receivers coming and I was watching Lavelle’s eyes the whole time and I picked it off,” Rosenzweig said of the interception. “It wasn’t all me though. My teammates played great and a bunch of kids rose to the occasion. We have five starters injured. It wasn’t just me that stepped up.”
Rye gained a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter but Garrett Cassin’s interception helped set up an 18-yard touchdown run by Kaiser to tie the game.
Lavelle then threw a backbreaking fourth down touchdown pass to give the Garnets the lead back. Daniel Rios blocked the extra point, leaving the score at 13-7.
Lavelle scored on a 2-yard keeper to stretch Rye’s lead to 21-7 with 3:22 left in the first half.
Following a big run by Rosenzweig to get Somers to the Rye 24, Jackson Kossow was intercepted in the end zone, sending the game into halftime with Somers trailing by two touchdowns.
Rosenzweig finished with five carries and 72 yards and a touchdown to help complement Kaiser in the backfield. It was crucial to find a secondary running back after senior captain Charlie Balancia suffered a minor MCL tear in Week 2.
“We needed him to step up,” Kaiser said of Rosenzweig. “Balancia’s one of the best players on our team and me and him are kind of a one-two punch. We call ourselves ‘thunder and lightning.’ But Nate doing well opens it up for me and me doing well opens things up for him. It was a good combo.”
It was the halfback/defensive back Rosenzweig’s first start of the season. He had been hampered by a back injury.
“The last week was his first full week of practice,” DeMatteo said. “He’s the fastest kid on our team. I was real happy for him. Losing Charlie was big, but Nate came through.”
Rye had difficulty moving the chains in the final 24 minutes. The Garnets scored just three points and only gained 88 total yards in the second half.
“You had a lot of new guys in there,” DeMatteo said of his defense. “They were a little nervous early in the game. As the game wore on, they got better at what they were doing. But when you play a kid like Lavelle with three brand new secondary guys…we had three guys out: Balancia, (Nick) Rossi and (Anthony) Gionta. They were a little nervous. We were right with the coverages but we just weren’t getting deep enough and stuff like that. And in the second half they put it together.”
T.J. Deagan (1 sack) and Anthony Cheek each had 8 tackles to lead the defense. Dominic Cheek tallied 7 tackles while Rios had 6.
The win was crucial for Somers (2-1), coming off a 30-12 loss to Yorktown in Week 2.
“They were a little down after the loss and all the injuries, so the whole week (leading up to the game with Rye), was about dealing with adversity and becoming a man,” DeMatteo said. “They proved themselves tonight.”
Somers returns to action when they travel to Tappan Zee for a 7 p.m. game on Friday, Sept. 27.
“That was exactly our goal,” Rosenzweig said when asked how much the team wanted to display that their performance against Yorktown doesn’t reflect who they are as a team. “That game was a fluke and that’s not the team we really are.”