The Valley Central Vikings hung around in Friday’s Section IX Class AA quarterfinal game on Friday night but fell off the pace in the fourth quarter as the Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders scored 17 points and ran off to a 38-7 win.
“I thought we gave a great effort against one of the best teams in Section IX,” Valley Central coach Ron Introini said. “We hung with them. They made more plays than us. I think our defense played very well tonight. Our kids gave a great effort. That’s the most important.”
Despite losing the opening kickoff to an onside kick, the Vikings were even with the Crusaders after the game’s first 12 minutes.
They answered Steven Campione’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Johnny McCormick by marching down the field as soon as they got the ball.
The Vikings finished an 89-yard drive when Chandler Toth connected with Shane Cuevas on 3-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7.
Toth did most of the heavy lifting on that opening drive, running for 35 yards and passing for 30.
“(Toth) made some plays for us early,” Introini said. “Then in the second half, they were blitzing a little bit more and our protection broke down. We had some guys make some plays at the end.”
However, the Crusaders, who will meet third-seeded Newburgh Free Academy on Saturday night, scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take the lead for good.
Campione hit Garrett Welch for a 14-yard touchdown and Campione ran in for a 3-yard score, which was set up by a 57-yard pass-and-run to McCormick.
Then after a scoreless third quarter, Monroe-Woodbury got a 25-yard touchdown from Campione to Kenny Hernandez, a 36-yard field goal from Mike Boyle and a 9-yard score from backup quarterback Peter Mastropolo.
“I think they just wore us down and our kids battled right to the end,” Introini said.
Despite the loss the Vikings’ season will not end. Valley Central (3-5) will finish the season with a crossover game this week.
“It’s good for the seniors because it gives them one more game,” Introini said. “It gives the juniors that are coming back something we can look up to and see what’s going on with them. Hopefully we win it and end on a positive.”
By Mike Zummo