Third-Quarter TDs Doom the Vikings in a Loss to Haldane

We are part of The Trust Project
Valhalla's Kevin Williams tries to outrun the Haldane defense in Friday's game.
Valhalla’s Kevin Williams tries to outrun the Haldane defense in
Friday’s game.

By Andy Jacobs
Valhalla football coach Stephen Boyer must have liked the way the second half of Friday night’s game started. He had barely finished climbing back up to his eagle’s-eye perch in the school’s brand new press box when a fortuitous roll on a squib kick by his Vikings pinned visiting Haldane all the way back at the 6-yard line.
But on the first play from scrimmage, Blue Devil fullback Matt Balducci burst through the line, got to the left sideline and outran every maroon jersey for a 94-yard touchdown that gave the visitors from Cold Spring all the breathing room they would need for the rest of the evening.
“Yeah, that took the wind out of the sails a little bit,” Boyer would admit later about the big run by Balducci that all but put an end to any comeback hope Valhalla was clinging to after walking off the field at halftime trailing 15-0. The Blue Devils soon added two more touchdowns in the third quarter and went on to defeat the Vikings 35-8.
“We have a little consistency in the first quarter,” said Boyer, “then we just seem to fall apart second and third.”
By the time the fourth quarter began, Haldane’s lead had stretched to 35 points and Boyer was searching for a spark from his backup quarterback, Richard Denatale, who replaced freshman Ralph Gonzalez under center with just over a minute remaining in the third period. The Vikings did manage to score one touchdown and nearly added another on the game’s final play, but it was hardly enough as they dropped their fourth straight game after beating Pawling the second week of the season.
“I told the boys we need to play four quarters,” said Boyer. “You know, we played a quarter here and there. And then we just kind of fall apart in the middle. So that’s the one thing maybe we need to stress more, that we need four quarters out of these guys.”
Haldane, now 4-2, jumped out to a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game when quarterback Tyler Giachinta connected with Anthony Percacciolo on a 27-yard touchdown pass to conclude a five-play, 55-yard drive on the Blue Devils’ first possession of the night. Valhalla answered with a promising drive of its own, but it ended at the Haldane 18-yard line when a Gonzalez pass on fourth-and-eight was picked off by Ryan McCollum.
J.J. Pasqualone blocked a Blue Devil punt on the second play of the second quarter, but the Vikings, who gained possession at their own 37, quickly went three-and-out. After the teams traded several more punts, Haldane closed the half with an eight-play, 69-yard drive that concluded with a five-yard Balducci TD run with 22.8 seconds left on the clock. On the point-after, the snap from center was high so holder Percacciolo kept the ball himself and ran into the right side of the end zone for two points.
“We played a tough first half,” said Boyer. “We just need to put the ball in the end zone a little bit more with the offense and not wait until the fourth quarter.”
The 94-yard touchdown romp by Balducci early in the second half ended any suspense about the outcome, and Haldane seized complete control by adding two more TDs over the next seven minutes. Giachinta ran for a 28-yard gain on the Blue Devils’ second possession of the third quarter and then threw a screen pass to McCollum on the next play that turned into a 34-yard touchdown. When the Vikings then went three-and-out, McCollum fielded the line-drive punt and returned it 40 yards for another touchdown.
Trailing by 35 points, Valhalla finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter with a seven-play, 55-yard drive that Mathew Garcia capped with a nine-yard TD run. Garcia then ran in for the two-point conversion. The Vikings got the ball back again with five and a half minutes left and moved 30 yards with seven running plays.
With time for just one more play, Kevin Williams took a handoff at his own 41-yard line and quickly got to the left sideline. He appeared headed for a Viking touchdown, but was finally knocked out of bounds close to the goal line as time expired.
“It was executed well and Kevin ran hard,” said Boyer, who was disappointed his sophomore running back was deprived of a touchdown, but glad to see his team keep fighting to the very end.
“They didn’t put their heads down and say, ‘You know, this is what it is.’ They just said we’ll keep playing. So that’s a great credit to the boys. They keep playing to the end of the game. We had a couple of nice runs in the fourth quarter.”
Boyer will be hoping to see more of them next Saturday afternoon when the Vikings host Yonkers Montessori Academy in the regular-season finale.
“It is Homecoming,” he said. “I think the kids get excited. And YMA beat them last year and kind of danced on the field a little bit. So hopefully some of the kids remember and we come up with the same type of effort and enthusiasm. I think we came out with some fire today for the first time in a couple weeks.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.