— Going into halftime with neither team having found the end zone, Sleepy Hollow knew it was lucky to be locked in a tie with Rye. The Headless Horsemen had gained just 53 yards on the Garnets’ defense in the first half on Friday but came out of the break playing like a different team.
“Going into the second half, we said, ‘We have 24 minutes to make a memory that will last for the rest of your life,’ ” Sleepy Hollow senior Steven Bencosme said. “We’ve been so focused all week.”
The Headless Horsemen made sure that the memory would last with a rousing second half. The 14-0 win was Sleepy Hollow’s first victory over Rye in more than two decades.
“In the past, we’ve struggled against this program,” quarterback Devin Lopez said. “It feels good to have our hard work pay off.”
Turnovers plagued each team in the early going. Sleepy Hollow (2-0) fumbled on its first possession, which was followed by an interception thrown by Rye. Lopez gave the ball right back on the next drive, as each defense was having its way.
“The defenses played great in the first half,” Lopez said. “Rye has a good defense. They’re big, strong and smart.”
Lopez’s second interception came in the second quarter, with Jack Hasselmann returning it for a touchdown, but it would be called back on a block in the back penalty. That allowed Sleepy Hollow to go into halftime with the score still tied at 0-0.
“I wasn’t calm in the pocket,” Lopez said. “I need to set my feet and deliver.”
With the Garnets (1-1) knocking on the doorstep again in the third quarter, it was Dionel Infante who came up with the biggest play of the game. An Andrew Livingston pass was bobbled, and Infante stole the pass away and took it all the way for a touchdown to put the Headless Horsemen up 7-0.
Sleepy Hollow got the ball back early in the fourth quarter, and Lopez connected on an 82-yard touchdown pass with Bencosme on a third-and-16 deep ball.
“It was a great, great pass,” Bencosme said. “I bobbled it off my right hand and caught it. I felt the defender behind me and I just gave a him a little touch. Then, I was off to the races.”
The Headless Horsemen defense held on for the shutout, allowing Rye to gain just 25 yards in the second half.