Dominant Burke is crushed by costly penalties

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

GOSHEN — Red Hook’s Casey McNulty kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the Raiders an improbable 31-28 overtime win over Burke Catholic in the longest Section Nine game ever played. The three-hour and 10-minute marathon was the third overtime victory for Red Hook this season and gave the Raiders first place in Class B. But as wild as all of that sounds, it isn’t half of the story. Burke had completely dominated the game for three quarters and two minutes of the fourth and would have won handily had it not committed 10 costly penalties — eight in the first half, up to that point. But let’s back up just a minute or so to properly set the scene. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Burke had a fourth and goal at the RH five, poised to score another touchdown, which would have wrapped up the win. The Raiders’ Ryan Asher broke through the Burke line, however, and dropped quarterback Mike Sullivan for a seven-yard loss. There was no panic on the Burke sideline since Red Hook had yet to even pick up a first down in the game. Well, the first two ensuing plays finally got the Raiders that initial first down of the long afternoon. But on second and 10, the Eagles’ Chris Gebert picked off a Ryan King pass. That’s when the tenth Burke penalty kicked in. Gebert’s return to deep in Raider territory was brought back to the Red Hook 44 because of another Eagle hold. The worm, as they say, was turning. On the next play Burke runningback Will Loeb got hit hard at the end of an 11-yard run and fumbled the ball away. DB McNulty fell on the pigskin to give Red Hook the ball back at the 33. Suddenly the Raiders took off their Clark Kent glasses, ripped off their shirts, and revealed their Superman garb. King hooked up with Jason Clark for a 27-yard pass completion, and runningback Billy Pease followed with a 40-yard touchdown run. Just like that. McNulty’s point after touchdown made it 14-7 with 9:27 left in regulation. With wingback Jimmy Toledo sidelined by a pulled back muscle suffered earlier in the game, Burke quickly went three-and-out before holding Red Hook, which punted as well. Burke then returned to its bread-and-butter man for the afternoon, fullback Phil Asaro, but consecutive holding calls brought back a pair of Asaro gainers. So on a fourth and 15 from their 44, the Eagles set up to punt. Red Hook overloaded its right side on the punt rush, and John Kravic and Vinnie Cagliostro blew in untouched. Cagliostro blocked the punt and Kravic fell on it at the Burke 25 with 2:18 left in regulation. On Red Hook’s first down, Burke DE Dan Van Houten sacked King for a 10-yard loss, but Pease got the 10 back on a second down dash. Then King tossed to Brad Hupfl for a 16-yard gainer and a first down at the Eagle nine. After throwing an incompletion, King slipped on the muddy turf and lost six. But on third down King hit Clark in the back left corner of the end zone for a touchdown with just 49 seconds left. McNulty made it 14-all. The overtimes were both nerve-wracking and exciting. In the first round, Sullivan hit Loeb with a three-yard touchdown pass and Steve Ferrezzara’s kick just snuck over the crossbar to make it 21-14. But in its turn, Red Hook tied the score via a fourth and one dive from the one by Richie Ross. McNulty retied it at 21. In the second overtime Burke’s Loeb ran it in from six yards out, finishing the touchdown off with a dive through the pylon. Ferrezzarra converted the point after touchdown. But the Raiders answered back when Ross broke out of the grasps of two tacklers at the line of scrimmage and scored on a 19-yard run. McNulty coolly retied the game at 28. Neither team scored in the third overtime, although each came close. Clark couldn’t hold onto a fourth down pass in the end zone for Red Hook. Then Burke’s Asaro was stuffed on a fourth and goal from the one. “They just blitzed and got to me,” a disappointed Asaro said after the game. The fourth overtime saw Toledo reenter the game for Burke. His runs of three and eight yards got a first down. But two plays later Tucker Roeder intercepted a Sullivan pass to end Burke’s possession. Now the game was Red Hook’s for the taking. Pease rushed for eight, but a sack of Roeder by Burke DE Dan Powers lost seven. Roeder then hit Devin Mauch with a 10-yard pass to the 11. On fourth down Red Hook Coach Tom Fay opted for McNulty, and the senior responded with the winning field goal taken from just right of center. “No, it didn’t phase me,” McNulty said after the game of Burke’s trying to “ice” him with a time out. “We’ve been practicing that field goal situation forever.” It was a stunning loss for Burke, which had the game well in hand, or so it seemed. In the first half the Eagles had chalked up 207 net yards of offense while holding Red Hook to an incredible one net yard. The first half saw the Raider offense seemingly powerless against the tenacious Eagle “D,” going three-and-out on all four of its possessions. In the third quarter Red Hook went three-and-out twice. It wasn’t until that two-yard run by Ross picked up the initial first down with 10:21 left in the fourth. Burke had roared out of the locker room and dominated. On the game’s first possession, the Eagles drove 91 yards in 15 plays for their first score, a two-yard run by Asaro with 5:33 left in the first quarter. The Eagles’ second possession produced touchdown number two. This time Burke drove 65 yards in eight plays and scored on a nine-yard Loeb run. Asaro, who had replaced the injured Andrew Jackson in the Burke backfield, finished with 214 yards on 42 carries. Loeb had 18 carries for 100 yards. For Red Hook, Pease was the leading rusher with 59 yards on eight hauls. Ross was 11-for-38 yards. Overall Burke outrushed Red Hook, 390-131. In passing, Burke’s Sullivan was seven-for-11 for 64 yards while King and Roeder of Red Hook combined to hit on six-for-15 and 91 aerial yards. “We have three great runners,” McNulty added afterward. “Pease played today with a sore ankle, but we knew we’d get it done.” Meanwhile Ross Mosher missed his third straight game for the Raiders. The junior fullbacker/linebacker’s leg had blown up after taking a hit above the knee in the Highland game. “Hopefully, we can add him back into our lineup in the next couple of weeks,” Red Hook Coach Tom Fay said. “They had to drain 100 cc’s of fluid out of his leg, and they’re still testing him. When he bruises, the blood doesn’t always coagulate properly, the doctors say.” But even without all-star Mosher, the Raiders can move the football — when they have to — and make big tackles. “We finally came together and won it in the end,” Pease said. “We got sick of the way we were playing. It’s all about heart, and we have heart.” “We took it personally,” McNulty said. “We didn’t come out and play the way we want, but we’ve got heart. Now we’ve gotta keep working hard.” Of the first three quarters, Fay said, “We were horrible. No hitting. We were just standing around and watching. We were very lucky not to be down 28-0. But our kids reached down deep in that second half, and that’s just what we needed.” Asked if he has had fantasies of kicking the winning field goal in a big game, something he’s done these last two weeks, McNulty just smiled. “No, I haven’t had any fantasies like that except to run and score the winning touchdown, maybe,” he said. “But not about field goals.” Maybe that will come in the next overtime. The win kept Red Hook unbeaten at 5-0 in Class B and 6-0 overall. For the Eagles it was their first loss. Burke is now 5-1 in Class B and overall. These two teams now face a very short week. Burke has to travel on Friday night to Highland, which is 3-2 in league play. The Huskies can get back into the thick of the race with a win then. Red Hook plays at Marlboro on Saturday, and hopes to win that one in regulation time.