MAHOPAC, N.Y. – The Woodlands High School football team lost to Section 9 champion O’Neill High, 35-18, in the Class C state playoffs Friday night at Mahopac High School.
The Falcons played without head coach Mike Meade, who attended his son’s wedding Friday. Meade's absence hurt the team severely, Senior running back D’Andre Tilford said.
“It was real tough because without his presence we couldn’t do anything without him,” Tilford said. “We missed (his leadership) a lot because without him, we can’t do nothing. He’s the one that sets the defense and everything.”
The Falcons could not stop O’Neill senior running back Jerry Nasi, who had 30 carries for nearly 240 yards, including 136 yards in the first quarter, and three touchdowns.
Nasi started his spectacular night by capping the Raiders’ first drive of the game with a 9-yard touchdown run. He broke a 33-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter to extend the lead to 14-0.
Woodlands scored twice but missed two extra points to cut the lead to 14-12. But Nasi scored his third touchdown of the first half on a 95-yard kickoff return to make it 21-12.
Nasi, who earned offensive MVP honors, said he went on autopilot for that play.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing,” he said. “I was just like, ‘Oh, what the hell,’ and running down the field. It was thrilling.”
But the real backbreaker came with 6:53 left in the game. Woodlands trailed, 28-18, and had the ball at its own 32. Malik Chambers picked off quarterback Justin Riccio and returned it 58 yards for the touchdown.
Woodlands had stopped O’Neill at the goal line and recovered a fumble toward the end of the third quarter, changing the momentum. But the Falcons gave the ball right back on the interception and never recovered.
Class C teams from Section 9 had not defeated a Section 1 opponent in the postseason in 16 years. But Friday, O’Neill broke that streak and ended Woodlands’ tremendous season.
“Myself, I’m very disappointed,” Tilford said. “I know my team is disappointed, too, because we had high hopes. … It just all went downhill.”