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SportsSpecial teams lift Bushmen in OT

Special teams lift Bushmen in OT

It might have been the longest field goal kick of John Grasso’s life.

Not in terms of distance, but in how long it felt like the football was in the air.

The kick had just enough distance and snaked just inside the left upright giving the Bushmen a 3-point lead in overtime.

On the game’s very next play, the defense put the capper on it as David Degroodt recovered a fumbled handoff to end the game, giving Pine Bush a 13-10 victory over the Minisink Valley Warriors on Thursday night.

Pine Bush quarterback Haakon Meland looks for room to run during Thursday’s non-league football game against Minisink Valley at Pine Bush High School.

“I was just hoping it was going in,” said Grasso. “I just have to kick it and do my job.”

Grasso did his job well, accounting for all 13 of the Bushmen’s points. In addition to his game-winning 28-yarder, he also kicked a 34-yard field goal with 7:14 to go in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 10-10.

In the first quarter, he caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Haakon Meland and kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.

“It was a good game, probably the best game I’ve played in,” Grasso said.

After Grasso’s field goal, Degroodt and the defense took the field for the first time with a lead to protect. After the fumbled handoff, Degroodt came sprinting out of the pile with the football in hand, leaving no doubt that the Bushmen had recovered the loose ball to end the game.

“There was a lot of excitement after that,” DeGroodt said. “It was a huge game on defense. We had a big stop there.”

It was the last big stop in a night of big stops for the Bushmen defense, which only gave up points when the Warriors had a short field.

Minisink Valley got its first touchdown after recovering a fumble by Pine Bush’s Anthony Potts on the Bushmen’s first offensive play on the Pine Bush 28. Ryan Johnson eventually hit Austin Jeziniak for an 11-yard touchdown.

Then in the third quarter, after a drive that started on the Pine Bush 3, the defense forced a 26-yard field goal by Anton Juncaj.

Pine Bush stopped the Warriors on fourth down twice and had two turnovers.

“My hat’s off to them,” Pine Bush coach Jim Wright said. “Mike McDonald does a great job with those kids. He makes great adjustments. He saw a whole bunch of things that they were doing. He had an excellent game plan.”

Defense picked up the slack on a night when the offense struggled to move the football. The only score came on a one-play drive in which Grasso got behind the Minisink defense.

The Bushmen were never able to duplicate that success.

“Football’s a three-legged stool: offense, defense and special teams,” Wright said. “We won the special teams and the defense. We lost on offense, I felt.”

By Mike Zummo

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