By MIKE SMITH
A dream season came to an end for the Rye Garnets on Nov. 9 when Rye fell in the Class A championship game to Somers in a 20-7 game that was far closer than the final score would suggest.
The loss marks the only blemish on the Garnets’ record this year, but the shorthanded squad gave a good account of itself nonetheless.
After a scoreless first half, Somers gained some traction against a Garnet defense plagued by injuries in the third quarter to take a 14-0 lead. Rye would cut the lead to seven on the ensuing drive when Andrew Livingston hit Tim DeGraw for a 75-yard touchdown strike, but the Tuskers held tough in the fourth quarter, stopping a fourth-and-goal reverse to DeGraw on the one-yard line, a play that all but sealed the win for the defending Class A champs.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t finish,” Garnets coach Dino Garr said. “We had the chance there to go for the tie and, if we got it, we would have went for two, so the win.”
Instead, the Tuskers took over in their own territory and marched down the field to put the game out of reach.
Rye was missing players in several key spots Saturday, including Chris Santangelo‑whose bad ankle kept him off the field defensively‑and Conor Murphy‑one of Rye’s leading rushers and top defensive players. The Garnets also lost a few more players during the course of the game, including Carlos Merlos, who dislocated his ankle and was taken off in an ambulance during the fourth quarter.
As a result, Rye was forced to call on its healthier players to carry the day. Running back Shane O’Malley was a bright spot for the Garnets, carrying the ball a career-high 36 times for 176 yards.
“Shane obviously stepped up,” Garr said. “And I thought our line did a great job with all the players we had hurt.”
Rye will lose a bevy of seniors from this year’s team, but will look to replicate its success in 2014 with some key contributors such as quarterback Andrew Livingston back in the fold.
“We’re losing 18 seniors who are quality young men and it will be difficult to replace them,” Garr said. “But we do have some players coming back like Andrew [Livingston] Tim [DeGraw] and Chase [Pratt], so we are going to look to retool.
“When you look at our year, we won the league, we beat Harrison,” he said. “So that’s pretty special.”