On Saturday, Nov. 6, at Monroe-Woodbury High School, the Crusaders hosted the Goldbacks of Newburgh in a battle for first place in the Section 9 AA division.
Both the Crusaders and Goldbacks entered the game undefeated in league play so far this season. The Goldbacks had crushed Kingston the week before 55-0 and the Crusaders had handled Pine Bush 35-14.
With first place on the line in the last regular season game and the playoffs starting next week, the matchup would appear to be a possible preview for the Section 9 Title game in two weeks.
The Crusaders took control early as they moved the ball down the field on their opening possession, but when their drive stalled and their field goal attempt sailed wide.
The Goldbacks took over on their own 20.
The Crusaders defense went right to work. On the Goldbacks’ first play from scrimmage linebacker Vinny Panzica recovered their fumble and the Crusaders were in business with the ball on the Newburgh 28. From there the Crusaders drove down to the five-yard line where QB Michael Zrelak punched it in. With a successful point after kick, they were up 7-0.
The Goldbacks responded by driving down to the Crusaders’ one yard line where the first quarter ended. The Goldbacks pushed it in from there to tie the score at seven to start the second quarter.
The Crusaders turned the ball over on downs in their next possession but their defense came up big again. This time Kavan Tuttle intercepted a Goldback pass and the Crusaders were set up on the the Newburgh 33.
A few plays later Eryk Shammgod took a handoff and broke through the Goldback defense to score. The Crusaders were back up 14-7.
The Goldbacks responded again, this time 6’8’’ Deondre Johnson caught a pass from Dylan Iorlano and took it down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown and the teams were tied at 14 going into the half.
The two teams defense’s controlled the third quarter and the game was on the line as the two teams headed into the fourth.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter Newburgh running back Eric Duncan broke through the Crusaders defense and and rumbled for a 18-yard touchdown to put the Goldbacks up 21-14.
There was 10:19 left in the game. The Goldback defense did there job and kept the Crusaders offense bottled up the rest of the way.
As time was running out on the clock Duncan again took a handoff and broke a few tackles as he powered his way into the Crusader end zone to wrap up the scoring.
The Crusaders 27-14 loss brings their record to 5-3 on the season their next game will be in the league semifinals when they will take on the always dangerous Middies of Middletown on Saturday at home.
- William Dimmit