Vikings Rout Putnam Valley in the Class B Playoffs

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Valhalla’s Michael Ferrara picks up big yardage
in the Vikings’ playoff win over Putnam Valley.

By Danny Lopriore – Valhalla quarterback Ralph Gonzalez III threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns, including two explosive connections to slot receiver Michael Ferrara, as the Vikings topped visiting Putnam Valley 31-6 in a Section 1, Class B quarterfinal playoff game on Saturday afternoon.

The third-seeded Vikings (6-2) will meet No. 2 Pleasantville (7-1) in the semifinal round Friday at 7 p.m. at Pace University. Valhalla defeated the Panthers 21-20 midway through the regular season, the only loss for the defending Section 1 champions.

After a mistake-filled early first quarter, the Vikings opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal by Anthony DeMicelli. The teams exchanged turnovers and both defenses played well until Gonzalez tossed a short pass to Ferrara, who juked and dashed 56 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

“Me and the receivers are very comfortable with each other, know each other so well,” said Gonzalez, who completed 15 of his 23 passes. “I trust them to find open space and they trust me to get the ball to them. They have a lot of speed.”

Joseph Pecora changed the complexion of the game late in the second quarter when he gobbled up a fumble on the Putnam Valley 26-yard line and then followed up on the next play by going high in the air in the left corner of the end zone to grab a Gonzalez pass to give the Vikings a 17-0 halftime lead.

Relying on a defense that had not allowed a point for nearly three full games, the Vikings waited for opportunities. Jason Smith, Erick Pasqualone, Max Cavallo, John Lynch and DeMicelli took turns in the Tigers’ backfield. Smith had three sacks and ran down Putnam Valley’s runners.

“Coach (Steve Boyer) says you win championships with defense first,” Smith said. “It’s our job to keep the other team from getting position and moving the ball. Then we let the offense have a chance to score. We have been playing very well since beating Pleasantville.”

Boyer said his offense took advantage of defenses, used its speed and played strong defense.

“We know what we can do on offense, but I have always said through my coaching career that defense wins, especially in playoff games when teams are all good,” Boyer said. “It was a physical game today. Our defense made a lot of plays in their backfield.”

Ferrara, who caught six Gonzalez passes for 165 yards, with touchdowns of 56 and 70 yards, has seemingly recovered from some nicks and bruises over the last several weeks. A shoulder injury didn’t bother him against Putnam Valley.

“I’m feeling good and we are getting better each week since we beat Pleasantville,” Ferrara said. “I think our defense really sets us up for what we can do on offense. We are looking forward to next game.”

Luke Ursillo caught the fourth touchdown pass and the defense finally allowed a touchdown in the fourth quarter, with exactly four minutes left on the clock, after 143 minutes of scoreless football since the win over Pleasantville.

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