River Dell beat Vernon, 35-14, in a game that was a tale of two halves. The first half was very competitive, tied at 14-14, and the second half was dominated by River Dell.
First Quarter: After a Vernon punt, River Dell drove 66 yards in five-and-a-half minutes, scoring on a 4-yard run by quarterback Jake Sconza. The score was set up by runs from Andrew Spano of 11 and 10 yards plus a 15-yard reception by Max Froonjian. Vernon moved the ball on the following drive behind the running of Gage Moskovitz, but a broken play resulted in Derek Lazier gaining no yards, followed by an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Second Quarter: Vernon began their next possession on their 30 and a 5-yard Moskovitz run was followed by a 65-yard touchdown run by Moskovitz to put Vernon ahead, 7-6. River Dell answered them, marching down the field. After a pass interference by Vernon, Sconza found RJ Weiss for 12 yards and Spano ran for 12 and then a 4-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was successful and the Hawks were up, 14-7. Vernon came right back on a 33-yard touchdown run by Moskovitz with one minute remaining to tie the score.
Third Quarter: River Dell came out with the ball and picked up a couple of first downs before Sconza found Froonjian on the run for a 37-yard touchdown. The Hawk defense forced a three-and-out and Vernon attempted a fake punt from their 25, but the snap was bobbled by the up-man, Logan Pych. But it wouldn’t have mattered as the River Dell defense, led by Scott Sybel was on top of him immediately and Weiss recovered for River Dell on the Vernon 16-yard line. The first play for River Dell was a completion to Froonjian on the sideline to the 1-yard line with tight coverage from a Vernon defender. Sconza sneaked in for the score from the 1-yard line and River Dell was up, 28-14. Vernon had another three-and-out and River Dell moved swiftly behind a 31-yard pass to Chris Kelm and a 20-yard run by Spano. The drive abruptly ended when Ian Schmid intercepted on the 8-yard line.
Fourth Quarter: Vernon was forced out of the ground attack that was successful for them in the first half. Passes to Franco Luna of 11 and 17 yards, then to Ricky Healy for 17 moved them to the 29-yard line. But Froonjian intercepted in the end zone for River Dell and killed the Vernon threat. Vernon moved again through the air: a 36-yard pass to Healy and a roughing the passer on River Dell gave the Vikings the ball on 32. This time, Jack Carey intercepted on the 11-yard line and returned it to the 48 of River Dell. The drive ended up with a pooch punt that was downed on the 14. After three incompletions, a fourth down pass was intercepted by Froonjian, who returned it 24 yards for the touchdown with three minutes left. Vincent Doornheim intercepted another pass and River Dell took a knee.
Comments: As mentioned earlier, it was a tale of two halves. While the offense was successful in the first half, the defense allowed Moskovitz to run successfully. What changed was River Dell coming out with the ball in the second half, scoring, followed by the fake punt that River Dell was all over. What was different was River Dell’s defense winning first down. While Vernon would pick up first downs, they were not successful with first down plays, putting them in second-and-long situations. River Dell was able to take Vernon away from what worked for them in the first half and they also intercepted four passes.
The two stars for River Dell were Froonjian and Spano. Froonjian caught a touchdown pass, returned one interception for a score and his other interception ended a Vernon threat. Spano ran for 170 yards on 30 carries, many being well earned.
Moskovitz ran for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries in the first half, but only had 3 yards on 4 carries in the second half. In addition, Vernon had 207 total yards in the first half with Moskovitz accounting for 180 of them. Vernon picked up 134 yards in the second half, mostly through the air. They were forced out of what made them successful in the first half by the score and what they could not do on first down. Credit for that goes to the River Dell defense.