On a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, the Crusaders traveled to Washingtonville to face the Wizards in a classic OCIAA showdown with plenty of playoff implications on the line.
The Crusaders entered the game with a 4-3 record on the season, having defeated Warwick last week 31-7 and picking up a victory due to a forfeit by Middletown for use of an ineligible player in their game earlier in the season.
The Wizards struck first with 2:30 left in the first quarter when they scored on a perfectly executed Flea-Flicker pass to TJ Snyder to put them up 7-0.
The Crusaders came right back when Nick Calderone scoped up a bobbled Wizard pitch out and ran it in for the score. However, the missed PAT left team down 7-6.
The Wizards increased their lead to eight points when they scored on a nine-yard run 3:42 left in the half and then went up by 11 when they hit a 30-yard field goal with five second left in the half.
The two teams exchanged fumbles early in the third quarter. Then the Crusaders got their big break when CJ Gullota blocked a Wizard punt and the Crusaders had a first down on the Wizards' 10-yard line with 2:49 left in the third.
From there Nick Calderone scored his second touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run. When Eddie Fennessy hit the PAT, the Crusaders had cut the Wizards' lead to three points with a quarter to play.
Early in the fourth quarter Anthony Campione put the Crusaders ahead by capping off a drive with a two-yard quarterback sneak. With the PAT the Crusaders were up 20-17.
But with their season on the line, the Wizards drove back down the field and with 3:40 left in the game scored on a TJ Snyder 38-yard touchdown run to go back up 23-20.
That was when the game got interesting. The Crusaders moved the ball down to the Wizards' 27-yard line, thanks to another big run by Calderone.
But on a fourth and four on the 13, the Wizards held and took over with 1:04 left in the game and it appeared the game was over.
Two plays later Justin Gumbs striped the Wizard ball carrier and the Crusaders were still alive with the ball on the 23 with 34 second left. Four quick passes later the Crusaders were at Wizards 1 with time running out.
From there things got out of hand.
After a failed quarterback sneak the referees marked the ball back at the six-yard line. Questions arose about the spot of the ball, how much time was on the clock, what down was it, why didn’t they measure for the first down.
After a heated 10-minute discussion between Head Coach James Sciarra and the officials, the Crusaders lined up for a 23-yard field goal with five seconds left on the clock.
As the kick sailed wide right the Wizards celebrated their victory and their berth into the playoffs. The Crusaders were left to scratch their heads and wonder what just happened.
The Crusaders' loss brings their record to 4-4 on the season they will face #1 seeded Newburgh on Saturday at Dietz Stadium in Kingston at 7.
- William Dimmit