Briarcliff came into last night’s Class B semifinal game ranked fourth and No. 1 seed Croton Harmon not given the slightest chance to pull off the upset.
With a few extra days to prepare due to the snowy weather conditions, the Bears had to come out and execute a flawless game plan while forcing Croton Harmon into a mistake or two to have a shot but unfortunately for them, Croton Harmon was as real as advertised as they dominated Briarcliff 49-7 on the soggy turf field at Valhalla High School.
Croton Harmon, led by senior quarterback Jesse Mainero, got their way each time against the Briarcliff defense. Croton Harmon amassed 489 total yards of offense (383 rushing yards, 106 passing yards) and Mainero accounted for six of Croton Harmon’s seven seven touchdowns as he rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two more. Mainero statline read as follows, 104 yards rushing on 16 carries, and three for four on pass attempts for 106 yards before he exited prior to the fourth quarter.
“We had a really long time off because of the delays and cancellations so we were ready to finally come out and just play,” Mainero said. “Our line did a great job today and I was able to make some reads based on their defense, especially in goal line situations which led to some points. Our defense was solid as well and really huddled up and came together after they scored so it was a great team effort. Now we have a short week to get ready for Lourdes, so we have to get right back to work.”
Briarcliff had no answers on either side of the ball and was just overmatched in every phase of the game. The Bears did manage to score a lone touchdown in the first quarter when senior quarterback Ryan Hooper found his senior counterpart Colin Orr on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 12.3 seconds left in the first to cut the lead to 14-7. After that score, Briarcliff didn’t have another solid drive for the remainder of the game and only gained 119 yards of total offense for the game. Hooper went seven for 16 for 168 yards and a touchdown to lead Briarcliff.
Despite the loss, Briarcliff demonstrated an amazing turnaround from last season, when not a single match was one, and will play in a consolation bowl against Irvington at John Jay High School on a date and time TBA. Croton Harmon will play against No. 2 Lourdes this Saturday in the Class B championship game at Mahopac High School.