By Andy Jacobs
With longtime head coach Bill Broggy stepping down following the end of the spring season just a few months ago, a new era dawned on Friday night with Andrew Giuliano taking over the reins of the Fox Lane football program.
As it turned out, Giuliano and his Foxes couldn’t have asked for a better beginning. Erupting for three fourth-quarter touchdowns, two of them by quarterback Eric Miller, the Foxes broke open a close contest and wound up with a convincing 29-7 victory over the host Roy C. Ketcham Indians in the 2021 season opener.
“I’m happy, obviously. That was a big win,” said Giuliano about collecting his first victory as a head coach. “I think we had a really good week of practice, which set us up for this game. The kids played a little tentative in the first half, but the way we finished the second half shows what the team’s all about.”
Ketcham began the game with an 11-play drive that lasted seven minutes but eventually stalled at the Fox Lane 41-yard line. The Foxes’ first play from scrimmage, an 18-yard pass from Jack Travis to Logan Matson, quickly moved them into RCK territory. But five plays later, a Fox Lane fumble was recovered by the Indians and the two teams soon started the second quarter still scoreless.
A Ketcham fumble on the second play of the quarter was fallen on by Brian Bailey, giving the Foxes possession just shy of midfield. They soon took advantage as Travis connected with a wide-open Matson in the right corner of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown right after the Indians had jumped offside on a fourth-and-three play. Matt Antolino booted the extra point and Fox Lane took a 7-0 lead with 7:16 remaining in the half.
Another turnover by the Indians gave the Foxes the ball at the RCK 35 with 5:17 left in the half. But on third-and-eight from the 12-yard line, Travis rolled to his right and threw a pass that was picked off just in front of the goal line. The Indians couldn’t move the ball, though, and when they tried to punt from the end zone the long snap sailed outbounds for a safety that stretched the Foxes’ lead to 9-0 with 33.6 seconds to go before intermission.
In the third quarter, Matson put an end to another time-consuming 11-play Ketcham drive with an interception along the left sideline at the Foxes’ 40-yard line. Two plays later, Travis bolted up the middle for a 20-yard gain, but the ball squirted loose as he was hitting the turf and the Indians recovered.
“Jack can scoot,” said Giuliano. “He’s fast. You know, I thought he was down on that play. So that’s tough. They called it a fumble. So the fact is it was a fumble.”
Just two plays later, Ketcham’s agile quarterback, Sean Camacho, broke past the line of scrimmage and scampered 72 yards for a touchdown. The point-after cut the Foxes’ lead to just 9-7 with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.
The Indians seemed to have all the momentum moments later when they recovered a Fox Lane fumble and took possession again at the Foxes’ 47-yard line. But RCK coughed the ball up too on the very next play as Marc Berisha snatched the ball away and rumbling to the Ketcham 42. Berisha’s big defensive play set the stage for a seven-play drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters and ended with Miller, the Foxes’ other senior quarterback, running up the middle for a four-yard touchdown. The PAT gave Fox Lane a 16-7 cushion with 11:13 left on the clock.
With horrendous field position, RCK was forced to punt the ball on fourth-and-14 and Matson returned it to the Indians’ 22-yard line. After Mike Debono ran for five yards on first down, Miller picked up the rest on second down by getting to the left sideline and slipping his way into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Though the point-after was no good, the Foxes still had a 22-7 lead with 8:46 to go.
“Eric comes in, he’s just a different mentality,” said Giuliano about his second talented signal-caller. “He has a different mindset the way he approaches the game. He plays with a lot of fun and animation, and I think the guys responded to him in the second half.”
The Foxes put the game out of reach when Matson ran 26 yards to the Ketcham 3-yard line on a sweep to the left and Noah Bernero immediately followed with a three-yard TD run. The PAT from Antolino gave the Foxes a commanding 22-point advantage with 5:33 left.
“Yeah, it was a team win,” said Giuliano. “I don’t know how many ball carriers, maybe seven, maybe six. Defensively, we have young guys that can run around. I’m still filling out the depth charts like everybody is in week one.”
Asked what he has in mind for an encore to his first varsity win, the Foxes’ brand new coach answered, “We have practice tomorrow. We’ll get ready for Suffern. I don’t know if they won or lost (vs. North Rockland), but we’ll be ready.”