There were touchdowns galore late Saturday afternoon at Briarcliff High School, where the Byram Hills Bobcats wound up scoring the final two of them in a 42-28 victory over Briarcliff/Hamilton.
The two teams were deadlocked 14-14 at halftime and still tied at 28-apiece heading to the fourth quarter. But Bobcats senior quarterback Jared Cohen, who had already tossed three touchdown passes earlier in the game, ran two yards for another TD with 4:44 remaining in the game, completing a 15-play, 72-yard drive that gave Byram Hills the lead for good.
Byram Hills all but sealed the outcome exactly a minute later when Michael Rocco added another two-yard touchdown run, this one coming two plays after he had picked off a pass at the Bears’ 20-yard line.
The Bobcats, now 3-2 this season, had started the day’s scoring when they moved 65 yards in eight plays on the opening possession of the game. Cohen capped the drive on fourth-and-seven by rolling right and throwing to Ben Dreilinger for a 23-yard touchdown. Late in the quarter, Byram Hills senior Evan Weiss picked up a fumble by the Bears and scored from two yards out. The PAT from Luke Weiler stretched the lead to 14-0.
Early in the second quarter, the tables were turned as Briarcliff/Hamilton recovered a fumble at the Bobcat 20-yard line and, on first down, quarterback Ben Raphael connected with Jaylen Savage in the end zone for a Bear touchdown. Daniel Satran’s point-after cut the Briarcliff deficit to 14-7.
With a minute left in the half, Savage picked off a pass and ran the ball down to the Byram 2-yard line. Two plays later, the Bears’ Brandon Rispoli ran in for a two-yard touchdown and the teams left at halftime even at 14-14.
An interception by the Bobcats’ George Gjelaj 45 seconds into the second half gave Byram Hills the ball at the Briarcliff 15. On fourth-and-three, Cohen found Rocco over the middle on a nine-yard touchdown pass. But just one minute later, the Bears responded as Rispoli got to the right sideline and outran everyone to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, leaving the Bears trailing 21-20.
Nearly midway through the third quarter, Cohen capped a five-play, 55-yard drive with his third TD pass, five yards to Dreilinger in the right side of the end zone. Weiler’s kick gave Byram Hills an eight-point advantage.
The Bears managed to get even in the final minute of the third quarter as Raphael hit Adam Harris with a pass over the middle and the junior wide receiver fended off a tackle before racing past a pair of Bobcats for an electrifying and zig-zagging 48-yard touchdown. Raphael’s two-point run around right end tied the score and gave the Bears’ fans hope their team would soon earn its first win of the season.
But the long and lengthy drive by the Bobcats in the fourth quarter dashed those hopes. Cohen’s go-ahead two-yard touchdown run on fourth down put Byram Hills ahead for good and it wasn’t long before Rocco added his game-clinching plays, first an interception and then a touchdown.