Touted as one of the best games of the regular season in Section 1, Sunday’s matchup between Rye and Somers had all of the makings of a special one.
On one hand, the Garnets, led by junior star quarterback Andrew Livingston, were looking to prove to all of Class A that they were legitimate contenders and possibly the favorite early in the season. On the other, the defending Class A champion Tuskers were looking to prove that, despite losing multiple key starters from last year’s team, they would still be in contention for another title.
Both teams proved those statements true but in the end, Rye showed that there’s a new sheriff in town.
Despite trailing late in the fourth quarter, the Garnets pulled out a thrilling 20-13 comeback win on the road at Somers on Sunday afternoon. Rye trailed by a point after Joe Spor broke a 40-yard touchdown run for the Tuskers with 6:52 remaining. But Livingston led a nine play, 62-yard drive capped by Chris Santangelo’s game-winning 22-yard touchdown.
Santangelo caught the ensuing two-point conversion to put Rye up seven with 3:43 remaining. Tim DeGraw recovered a fumble three plays later for the Garnets and they then picked up two first downs to seal the win.
“We knew we had what it takes,” said Santangelo, who caught five passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns and also had a sack on defense. “(Somers) is a really tough team and they’re really well coached. ... We just wanted to come out here, stick with our gameplan and play as hard as we can. We came out with the ‘W.’”
Livingston didn't put up the numbers he did in Week 1 when he threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns against Spring Valley. But the junior was still impressive in the win against the Tuskers, completing 10 of 22 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
“Mentally, we were just fantastic today,” Livingston said. “We didn’t get too down, we didn’t get too high. ... There was never a doubt in our mind that we were going to come back and make the play to win the game. That’s our mentality. We’re always positive.”
While Livingston and Santangelo provided the game-winning play, the Garnets got a huge boost from running back Conor Murphy. Murphy ran for 114 yards on 23 carries and provided a great balance with Livingston’s passing attack, while also adding a sack on defense.
“(Murphy’s performance) was admirable,” Livingston said of senior. “All around the board – the backs, the line – we did a fantastic job of moving the ball up front. Our run game was huge today.”
Shane O’Malley also provided a boost out of the backfield, rushing for 23 yards and a touchdown on five carries. DeGraw caught two passes for 80 yards and also had a big 35-yard kickoff return in the first half.
Somers refused to let Livingston control the pace of the game. They sent multiple defenders on multiple blitz packages to throw off Livingston’s timing and overall, kept him from hitting on his big downfield plays.
“(Livingston) is a heck of a quarterback,” legendary Somers coach Tony DeMatteo said. “We moved the ball and when we moved it, he’s not out there. Our plan was to keep him off the field. And other than the opening play (when Livingston connected with DeGraw for a 60-yard pass), it was working pretty well. We just couldn’t finish the job.”
Tim Fazzinga ran for 84 yards on 15 carries for the Huskers while Matt Morgante ran for 76 yards on 10 carries and had an interception on defense. Erik Carnazza had a rushing touchdown to go along with Spor’s long touchdown.
“My kid’s don’t quit,” DeMatteo said. “We came to play and we played. We’re brand new and we made a lot of mistakes. These are two really good teams. I just wished we weren’t playing Rye so early. To play Poughkeepsie last week and Rye this week, that's tough for us; it wasn’t good for us. ... We’re going to have to recover.”