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LINCONDALE — On the second play of the game, Somers' Kevin Murray intercepted a Rye pass. Three plays later, the Tuskers scored a touchdown less then two minutes into the season opener.
"That was probably the worst thing that could happen to us," coach Tony DeMatteo said.
The ease with which Somers got its opening score led to a first half that was as lackadaisical as it was unproductive. But over the final quarter-plus, Somers found its answer with the inside-outside running of Joe Lombardo and C.J. Silva. They combined for 219 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 28-20 victory over Rye at Somers High School Friday night.
"Even though I know this game didn't count for us towards the playoffs, this was a big win," DeMatteo said. "I thought they came in with the psychological edge after we beat them last year in the playoffs. This was huge."
At halftime, the victory appeared in jeopardy. Rye senior Joe Simolacaj rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries to help his team control the tempo. It drew closer on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jake Meyerson to Teddy Ice.
"When I brought them in at halftime, I said, 'Look, I'm not changing anything,' " DeMatteo said. "We were ready to go — just settle down."
It wasn't easy. Ice intercepted a screenpass that bounced off a Somers player and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown that gave the Garnets a 14-7 lead.
But Somers responded quickly, driving 54 yards on five plays. Silva capped it with a 6-yard scamper. He slipped in from 1 yard out on the next drive after Lombardo had broke through the middle for a 36-yard gain.
Lombardo added a touchdown of his own in the fourthquarter after Silva's 26-yard dash on fourth-and-four.
Murray recovered an onside kick after a late Rye touchdownpass that iced the Somers victory.
"This is a good win for us," said Silva, who finished with three touchdowns. "No, this was a great win."
The Garnets saw a handful of key players struggle with cramps, including the quarterback Meyerson. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by freshman Andrew Livington.
"They wore us down a little bit," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "They're a good ballclub. And I think our kids were a little bit beat up after the first half."
Simolacaj finished with 114 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.