RYE — They jumped off stone more than 10 feet high. They crawled through bushes and down banks. They waded through thigh-deep water with helmets in hand as family and friends turned iPhones on the boys splashing in celebration.
Nine straight times, this rivalry tradition had belonged to Rye, but on a sun-splashed Saturday, it was Harrison — the team and, by extension, the town — that felt the murky waters of the Blind Brook after a victory.
The Huskies finally snapped years of futility against Rye, shutting down and shutting out the Garnets 21-0 in their regular-season finale at Nugent Stadium. They capped the afternoon in the brook, in the same footprints where Rye had danced a series-record nine straight times in this historic local rivalry, which dates to 1929.
“There really are just no words,” said soaked senior quarterback Vin Nicita, who won for the first time in four tries against Rye. “We waited four years for this and it feels great.”
The wait hadn’t been nearly as long for Brendan Pyne, but the freshman linebacker — a former Rye student who played two years of modified in the football program — had the game’s biggest impact. He sacked former teammate Andrew Livingston four times and dragged down the Rye quarterback for an 11-yard loss on a first-quarter punt attempt.
“I was just trying to get in Andrew’s head,” said Pyne, who spent last year at IMG Academy in Florida. His father, George, is the president of IMG Sports and Entertainment. “We were good friends. It worked out. The blitzes, the play calls from coach (Art) Troilo, were perfect.”
“Like Sammy Maldonado — he’s that kind of kid,” Troilo said, referring to a Harrison star of years past. “He just played unbelievable. He had the best game as a freshman (against Rye) than anybody we’ve ever had.”
The defense limited Rye to just 107 yards. Cory Calcagni and Christian SantaMaria each had interceptions, and the Huskies totaled seven sacks.
Harrison (7-0) also rushed for 252 yards, led by Mike Amicucci’s 82 yards and two touchdowns and Kevin Nathanson’s 76 yards and a touchdown. Both broke through the middle of the defense for long touchdown runs in short-yardage situations to give the Huskies a 14-0 halftime lead.
“Every play we were getting 10 yards, 12 yards,” Amicucci said. “We were breaking long runs. I really have to credit my linemen. They did a great job blocking.”
The Garnets (4-3) had two chances — one in each half — but couldn’t take advantage of them, or two Harrison turnovers.
“Nothing goes forever,” said Rye coach Dino Garr, whose teams hadn’t lost to Harrison since the 2002 postseason. “You’d like to think it does, but we know going into every season that what happened in the past, that’s history.”
With the streak finally stopped, Harrison now leads the all-time series 42-37-3.
“You have to have patience and perseverance,” Troilo said. “The people in our community have been great. You can’t lose these big games. We needed to come and win this game, and we did.”