Haldane Wins Section I Title in Thriller

Dylan Rucker

Dylan Rucker holds up the Section I, Class D plaque.

Edges perennial rival Tuckahoe to advance

In the annual Section I, Class D title game between Haldane and rival Tuckahoe, the Blue Devils won a thriller, 27-21, holding off a late Tigers drive with a diving interception by Michael Murray.

Haldane will play Section IX champ Burke Catholic of Goshen today (Nov. 17) at 4 p.m. at Mahopac High School. The New York State Sportswriters Association this week had the Blue Devils (7-2) at No. 6 among Class D teams and Burke Catholic (9-1) at No. 4. The game will be broadcast on the NFHS Network.

The winner advances to the Final Four on Nov. 24 at Middletown High School.

Jake Thomas

Jake Thomas scored three times for the Blue Devils. (Photo by Skip Pearlman)

In the opening quarter of the Section I title game, played at Arlington High School, the Tigers’ deep passing attack presented a challenge for the Blue Devils. After a 39-yard pickup from their own 11-yard line, Tuckahoe quarterback Jax Colacicco threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Snyder that put the Tigers up, 7-0, with 6:23 left in the quarter.

Brody Corless had a 38-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, putting the Blue Devils at midfield. On third-and-7, quarterback Ryan Van Tassel found Jake Thomas wide open in the middle, and he ran 47 yards for the score.

After stopping the Tigers on a fourth-and-3, Haldane began using running back Evan Giachinta continuously. He picked up 18 yards on his first carry. With 6:35 left in the half, on the same drive, Haldane found itself facing its own fourth-and-3 at the Tuckahoe 24-yard line.

The Tigers stuffed the run and took over. After a 36-yard pass put them on the Haldane 36, Giachinta sacked Colacicco for a 12-yard loss. Facing third-and-22, Colacicco rifled a pass to Connor Brice for a 38-yard gain. On the next play, the quarterback ran it in from the 2-yard line to put Tuckahoe up 14-7 with 2:26 to go in the half.

After a drive that included two passes to Giachinta that covered 38 yards, Haldane was at the Tuckahoe 4-yard line with 30 seconds left. Coach Ryan McConville opted not to call a timeout and, on the next play, Van Tassel scrambled left and threw an interception, keeping the score at 14-7.

McConville said he told his team at halftime “what a great story it was going to be when we come back and win.”

Video by Jeffrey McDaniels

Tuckahoe started the second half with the football; Colacicco fired another deep pass to Snyder for a 38-yard gain that put the ball at the Haldane 15. After a sack and incomplete pass, the Tigers faced a fourth-and-29. Colacicco took a shot with a pass to the end zone, but Van Tassel picked it off to give the Blue Devils the ball at the 20-yard line.

On its first offensive play of that drive, Giachinta took a handoff, ran to the right side and, after beating the first few defenders, ran hard down the sideline, until he was tackled at the 10 — a 70-yard run. Soon after, Thomas ran it in on an end-around for the score, tying the game with 9:39 left in the third.

On two touches — one pass reception and one run — Thomas had two touchdowns, but he wasn’t done.

The Tigers answered with a drive that lasted nearly six minutes and ended with Colacicco finding Connor Benke for a 6-yard TD pass. Tuckahoe stopped the Blue Devils and got the ball back for another drive but missed a 30-yard field goal after the ball was tipped by a Haldane defender.

Photos by Skip Pearlman

In the fourth quarter, Van Tassel kept the Haldane drive alive with scrambles behind the line. But with 5:59 left, the Blue Devils faced a fourth-and-4 from the Tuckahoe 26. Van Tassel once again avoided pressure and, moving to his right, found Thomas in the end zone, his third touchdown of the game. There was just under six minutes left.

With 3:49 remaining, on second-and-9, Colacicco was hit as he threw, contributing to an interception by Thomas, who ran it back to the Tuckahoe 42. On second-and-2, Giachinta powered up the middle for a 34-yard touchdown. The Blue Devils missed the extra point but had a 27-21 lead.

The Tigers had 3:04 to save their season. On second-and-10, Colacicco lofted one deep, but Murray made a diving catch for the interception.

With 1:04 left on third-and-2 from the Tuckahoe 41, Haldane needed a first down to seal the game. Giachinta got it and the Blue Devils ran out the clock.

Giachinta finished with 202 yards rushing on 23 carries and Van Tassel completed 11 of 17 passes for 156 yards.

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