CROSS RIVER — A season awash in promise was suddenly in jeopardy. Not only had John Jay lost last week in an upset at Sleepy Hollow, it trailed at halftime to a younger, less experienced Rye team that lost here in last year’s Class A semifinals.
The Indians couldn’t even consider getting back to that point or where they wanted to go — much, much further — without displaying a bit of resilience. They showed exactly that in the second half, surviving the slow start en route to a 38-21 victory over visiting Rye.
Senior Jack Lambert showed John Jay’s greatest spoil — two of the section’s best quarterbacks. With fellow senior Tyler Keech nursing a left shoulder injury he suffered playing defense in the first half, Lambert took the ball to start the third quarter and only gave it back when he handed it to the official. He rushed for the majority of his 251 yards and all three touchdowns to fuel the second-half comeback.
“When your all-state quarterback goes down, your other all-state quarterback comes in,” John Jay coach Jimmy Clark said. “Not bad.”
Keech did return in the fourth quarter, but he sat the entire third. The Indians (3-2) already trailed 14-10 after a listless first half, but Lambert helped drive them 61 yards right after halftime, including a 1-yard keeper to put his team ahead. He added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“We talked to all the guys to regain composure, regain focus and remember their responsibilities,” Lambert said. “Our offensive line did a great job in the second half. We were able to run the ball in the second half, which we hadn’t done well the last couple weeks.”
The Indians reached last year’s Class A final, but their playoff future was in jeopardy after dropping a game 43-36 last week at Sleepy Hollow. They have lost two-way starters Vince Foti and Tommy Beck for the season due to injuries and saw the pressure mount against Rye.
The defense limited Rye to just one touchdown in the second half. New starter Nick Kells forced a key second half fumble that led to a John Jay touchdown after the Garnets cut their deficit to 24-21.
The win cost Rye coach Dino Garr a chance to earn sole possession of second on Section 1’s all-time wins list. He tied North Rockland’s Joe Casarella last week with win No. 256.
“It means I’ve been coaching a long time,” said Garr, now in his 31st season at Rye. “Obviously, I have great kids and this is a great program,” Garr said. “I’m very fortunate.”
Shane O’Malley led the Garnets (3-2) with 117 yards rushing. Quarterback Andrew Livingston went 10 for 16 for 142 yards.