On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Nov. 6, in Central Valley, the Crusaders took on the Middies of Middletown in a Section 9 semifinal football game.
The Crusaders entered the game with a 5-3 record, having dropped their last game against Newburgh 27-14.
The Middies entered with a 6-2 record, having defeated Kingston last week 37-7.
The Crusaders took control of the game on their first possession. QB Michael Zrelak broke through the Middletown defense and 55 yards later the Crusaders were on the board. When Quincy Banker hit the first of his five point-after-attempts in the game, the Crusaders were up 7-0.
The Crusaders’ defense stopped the next two drives by Middletown, first when Kyle German intercepted a pass and gave the Crusaders a first down on their 26 yard line and then when Conor Fitzgibbon made a pick that gave the Crusaders the ball at the 47.
From there the Crusaders drove down to the 19 where Zrelak again broke free and rumbled in to the end zone to put the team up 14-0.
The Middies fought back and when QB Jaden Farrell found Leon McKiver in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown pass, the score was 14-7.
Crusaders were not done and scored on their next possession. Eryk Shammgod sliced through the Middletown defense and scored from 55 yards out and the Crusaders were up 21-7.
The Crusaders struck again with 30 seconds left in the half when defensive lineman Alan Ramirez came up with a Middletown fumble and sprinted down the sideline for the score.
The Crusaders took a 27-7 lead into the half.
The third quarter
The Crusaders put the game out of reach on the second half kickoff. Fitzgibbon caught the ball on the 15 yard line, cut past some defenders broke back to the middle of the field and sprinted into the end zone. The Crusaders now had a 34-7 lead.
Again the Crusaders defense stopped the Middies on their next possession when Nick Hansen intercepted their pass and gave the Crusaders the ball on the 29.
The Middies rallied and scored again on a pass to McKiver to make the score 43-13 as the third quarter closed.
The fourth quarter
The Crusaders scored to start the fourth quarter on a two-yard touch down run by James Mastropolo to go up 41-13.
The Middies did not give up and, with eight minutes left in the game, scored on a TD pass to Jagger Blauvelt, making the score was 41-19.
The Crusaders answered with Zrelak scoring his third touchdown of the game from 45 yards out. The Crusaders were up 48-19.
As time was running out the Middies struck one more time when Farrell hit Angle Ortiz with his fourth TD pass of the game.
When the Middies scored on their two-point play, the score was 48-27.
The Crusaders’ victory brings their record to 6-3 on the season. It also puts them into the Section 9 Championship game against NFA on Saturday, Nov. 13, at home at noon.