Sometimes miracles don’t happen

Central Valley. NFA claims Section 9 AA football title as penalty negates potential game-changing touchdown for Monroe-Woodbury in the waning moments of the championship battle.

| 17 Nov 2021 | 12:10

Consider what happen Saturday afternoon, Nov. 13, at Monroe-Woodbury High School another epic battle for the Section 9 AA title between the NFA Goldbacks and Crusaders.

The Crusaders entered the game with a 6-3 record on the season, having defeated Middletown 48-27 in a semifinal game last week. Newburgh entered with a 8-1 record, beating Warwick in its semifinal match 41-16. One of those wins was against the Crusaders 27-14 when the two teams met in the last game of the regular season.

The first of three NFA field goals

The Goldbacks took the opening kickoff and methodically moved the ball from their 38 down to the Crusaders 4. From there, Goldback kicker Luis Tejada hit a 21-yard field goal.

The Goldbacks increased their lead when they recovered a Crusader fumble on their own 35-yard line with 4:03 left in the first quarter. The Crusaders defense rose to the occasion, keep the Goldbacks out of the end zone. But Tejada hit a 37-yard field goal and the Goldbacks were up 6-0.

Then the Crusader offense came to life. Long runs by Jayden Coulanges and Michael Zrelak gave the Crusaders a first down inside the Goldbacks’ five-yard line. From there Zrelak ran it in to tie the score. Crusader kicker Quincy Banker added the extra point to put the team up 7-6 with ten minutes left in the half.

The Goldbacks took possession of the ball on their own 20 and began another long drive into the Crusaders’ end of the field. Again the Crusaders defense stopped them. Tejada then hit a 30-yard field goal and the Goldbacks regained the lead at 9-7.

The Crusaders were forced to punt on their next possession. Punter Colin Douthit nailed a beauty that took a Crusader bounce and the Goldback return man was barely able to get out of the end zone to avoid the safety.

The Crusaders got the ball back with good field position but a non-stop stream of penalties just stopped them cold.

Weather delay

After the half, the game was put on hold. First strong winds and rain pelted the teams and fans as they made their way to the safety of the locker rooms and cars. Then the lighting and thunder arrived, followed by a hail storm that left the field covered in ice.

The two teams returned to the field after about an hour and began by trading punts. The score remained 9-7 as the third quarter ended.

In the fourth quarter the Goldbacks scored a TD when Sam Okeyo pushed his way into the Crusaders end zone.The extra point was missed and the Crusaders still had a chance.

The Crusaders next drive ended with a fumble on their own 40 but the Crusaders defense stopped the Goldbacks.

One last chance

With three seconds left on the clock the Crusaders lined up on the ball at their own 44-yard line. The ball was snapped to Zrelak and he lateraled it Kavan Tuttle behind the line.

Tuttle’s lateral to Coulanges hit the ground but he was able to pick it up and after being chased by Newburgh defenders threw a perfect 40-yard pass to Eryk Shammgod, who was all alone at the Newburgh 30 yard line and then ran in to score what appeared to be a game-changing touch down.

The Crusaders’ the miracle play, however, was called back on a penalty and the Goldbacks claimed the Section 9 crown.

The Crusaders’ 15-7 loss brings their final season record to 6-4.