Somers Overwhelms the Bobcats in the Sectional Qualifier

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It didn’t take very long for the players on the Byram Hills football team to realize they were in for a very long night at Somers High School on Friday evening.

With a berth in the Class A playoffs up for grabs, the host Tuskers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions and went on to rout the Bobcats 55-27 in a sectional qualifying game that was never really in doubt after the opening quarter. Somers junior halfback Messiah Horne rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns as the Tuskers overwhelmed a Bobcat team that was still in the playoff hunt despite a one-win regular season.

“We just got off to a rough start,” said Bobcats head coach Scott Saunders in the aftermath of the Somers demolition. “Obviously we put ourselves in a hole early and, you know, Somers is Somers. They’re a great team and you can’t do that with a team like that.”

Before the game was even two minutes old, the Tuskers had already found the end zone, using a 39-yard pass play from Kevin Olifiers to Jason Holland to set up Horne’s three-yard touchdown run. Not even five minutes in, Somers fullback Antonio Vierra bolted 19 yards for another touchdown to conclude a four-play, 62-yard drive that left Byram facing a quick 14-0 deficit.

A 25-yard pass from Lou Filippelli to Matt Grotta moved the Bobcats down to the Somers 30-yard line, but the Byram Hills drive was stopped by three successive incomplete passes. The Tuskers took over at their own 32 and, six plays later, Olifiers connected with AJ Butlien down the left sideline for a 37-yard touchdown pass. With 1:40 remaining in the opening quarter, the Somers lead had ballooned to 21-0.

“We put ourselves in bad field position, in bad spots, and it was just tough to climb out of that,” said Saunders. “Hey, credit to them. Somers had a great game plan going in.”

The Tuskers got the ball back again in the final seconds of the first quarter and proceeded to march 55 yards over the next three minutes, highlighted by a 32-yard run by fullback James Lucadamo to the Byram 3-yard line. On the next play, Lucadamo powered through the middle for the fourth Somers touchdown.

The Bobcats’ Filippelli, in the midst of one of the most prolific passing years in Section One history, connected with Michael LaGravinese for a big gain, but the play was called back by a Byram penalty. Soon the Bobcats were forced to punt again, and Somers added to its huge lead as standout kicker Eric Silvester booted a 28-yard field goal.

It was Silvester who kept the Bobcats pinned deep in their own end throughout the night by sending one kickoff after another into the end zone for touchbacks.

“I mean, he’s a weapon for ‘em,” said Saunders. “Obviously any team that has a weapon like that, you play the field-position game every time and you’re forcing a team to go 80 yards. It’s tough. Even when you’re on offense and he’s gotta punt, the kid’s got a leg. He’s the real deal.”

Soon after Silvester’s field goal, a Filippelli pass under pressure was picked off by lineman Erik Hagenah, who chugged 42 yards for another Somers touchdown that stretched the lead to 38-0. Late in the half, Filippelli collected five of his season-high 25 completions during a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Grotta running off right tackle for a six-yard touchdown that finally got the Bobcats on the scoreboard.

But Silvester added a 32-yard field goal that easily cleared the crossbar as time expired in the first half, sending the teams off the field at intermission with Somers holding a commanding 41-7 lead.

“Not a lot of screaming and yelling,” said Saunders about what transpired at halftime. “None of that, just about fighting. It’s about fighting and being there for each other and getting through it. Obviously we played a much better second half. I thought our captains, Andrew Zaccagnino, Tommy Addeo and Lou Filippelli, they rallied the guys and just told ‘em to fight and play for the ‘BH’ on the chest.”

The second half began with another 80-yard Bobcat drive, this one ending with a Filippelli pass to Zaccagnino, who dove across the goal line for a 19-yard touchdown. But the Somers lead grew to 48-13 on the first play of the final quarter when Horne ran right up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown.

Byram Hills did manage to add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both on short runs by Filippelli. But by then, it was mere window dressing for the Bobcats, who will have to wait another week for their second win of the season.

“Our guys, we’re young,” said Saunders. “We fought. We battled. We’re proud of the effort. We’re just not happy with the result, obviously.”

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