By Danny Lopriore – Locked in a game-long battle for yardage, the Pleasantville defense made big plays in big spots, including the block of a last-minute field goal try in a 7-6 opening-day victory over Ardsley on Saturday afternoon.
“The defense is always a little ahead at this point in the season,” Pleasantville coach Tony Becerra said. “The defense bent a little but didn’t break. We had drives that stalled for whatever reason. But the defense picked everybody up.”
The defending Section 1 and state regional Class B champion Panthers (1-0) scored just once, on a 23-yard run by Charlie McPhee late in the second quarter, and added the extra point kick by quarterback/kicker Jack Howe for the difference in the game. Ardsley’s missed extra point earlier in the game proved to be the difference.
“Our offense just determined we had to run the ball,” McPhee said. “The line has to win up front and I just felt I had to get those extra yards. I’ve developed into a runner that you aren’t going to get on the first shot. It was important in a close game today.”
Ardsley took the ball down to the Pleasantville 20-yard line in the final 50 seconds and tried for a game-winning 33-yard field goal on fourth down, but junior linebacker Nolan Egan pushed through the line, jumped, and blocked the potential game winner.
“I didn’t play my best,” Egan said. “We played well as a unit, but we have to get better. On the field goal try, I just went in saying I was going to block it and I got it. I jumped over some legs. It was a great feeling to help the team win.”
McPhee, who rushed for a game-high 168 yards on 33 carries, broke several tackles to finish a 15-play, 71-yard drive that produced Pleasantville’s first touchdown of the new season. Ardsley had opened the scoring on the previous possession with a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Julian McGarvey to receiver Vincent Manzi for a 6-0 lead.
Both teams moved the ball but failed to finish drives. Ardsley’s McGarvey used his receivers, Manzi and Jason Solano, to grab big chunks of yardage, but the Pleasantville defense made several stops on third and fourth down to keep the home team from scoring.
Pleasantville held Ardsley’s star running back Glenmour Osbourne, who rushed for more than 1800 yards last year, to just 61 yards.
Ardsley coach Dan DiFalco, who saw his team lose to Pleasantville twice last year by scores of 31-0 and 26-0, was proud of his team but frustrated at the close loss.
“We didn’t connect on a couple of balls (passes) and any coach worth his salt knows we had to pass some with their defense stacking to stop Glenmour,” DiFalco said. “I’m very proud of our defense. The defense won us a couple of games last year. We knew we couldn’t pitch a shutout against them, but we held them to one score, more than you can expect.”
Pleasantviille quarterback Jack Howe, who made the start after returning from a lacrosse injury suffered in May, completed 9 of 20 passes for 66 yards. Receiver Declan McDermott caught five Howe passes for 55 yards.
Pleasantville, 11-1 last season en route to a Class B state championship run that ended with a loss to Glens Falls in the state semifinals, hosts Nanuet Friday at 7 p.m.