NYACK, N.Y.— After losing to visiting crosstown rival Yorktown on opening night, Lakeland’s football squad had a different experience entirely as it went from a gridiron clash that had plenty of local flavor to one that involved a road trip to Rockland County on Sept. 8.
Lakeland was certainly ready to play and was right there step for step with host Nyack, but unfortunately for the Hornets the Indians just did a little bit more in a 15-9 Nyack victory.
One thing that put Lakeland in position to have a chance to win the contest was its ground game. That was led by quarterback Mike Capozzi (66 rushing yards, 16 carries), Tommy Barnett (65 yards, 12 rushes) and Justin Rivera (21 yards, 7 carries), which ran well behind linemen Raymond Stretz, Josh Hirsh, J.P. Diaz, Nick Verrino and Alphonse Piliero.
“Tommy was running hard, along with Justin Rivera,” said Capozzi, a senior captain. “Our line stepped up and we were able to run the ball the way we wanted to.”
Michael Ferretti put the Hornets up in the opening quarter on a 20-yard field goal but the Indians answered on a touchdown late in the first half, which gave the host a 7-3 halftime lead.
Lakeland then engineered a long drive that lasted 9:30 and resulted in a 10-yard John White touchdown run. That gave Lakeland the lead back at 9-7 with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.
“That drive was hard-nose Lakeland football, running the football and establishing ourselves at the line of scrimmage,” Hornet coach Mike Meadows said.
That type of hard-nose football set up White for pay dirt.
“The line had solid blocks and John White made the right read and put himself in the end zone,” Capozzi said.
Defensively, the Hornets were led by Tommy Briscoe (9 tackles) and Stretz (6 tackles).
“They came ready to play,” Capozzi said of Briscoe and Stretz.
But so did Nyack, as it connected on a 73-yard bomb late in the fourth quarter which set up a 4-yard touchdown run which won the game for the host.
“We fumbled the ball on offense one play prior to them throwing the bomb on their 25-yard line,” Meadows said. “We had momentum and drove the ball down before turning it over.”
Overall, Meadows felt his squad played with heart and determination.
“Nyack was a big and physical team,” Meadows said. “It was a tough one to swallow because our offensive line played well. We moved the ball and controlled the entire game but we couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. We will learn from our mistakes and do a better job finishing our drives. We also need to limit the big plays on defense. The two big plays they had led to touchdowns. It’s important we keep our chins up and move forward together as a family so we can prepare for our next opponent.”
Lakeland (0-2) travels to Peekskill in its next contest at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.