This wasn’t only a bounce back win, this was a big-time bounce back win.
A week after losing to Rondout Valley 14-13 in the last minute of regulation, Highland scored a 20-14 overtime win over host New Paltz in a Section 9 Class B win. Highland (4-1, 3-1 Class B) is now in sole possession of second-place in the division. The Huskies won just one game two years ago.
Brandon Mack helped clinch the win for Highland, hitting Ryan Merget with a 21-yard touchdown in OT. Highland gained possession first in OT on New Paltz’s 20-yard line, then stopped the Huguenots’ to clinch the wild victory. New Paltz had defeated the Huskies (4-1, 3-1 Class B) three times in a row by a combined score of 117-0.
“We ended up throwing the fade and Ryan made a big catch,”said Mack, who threw for two touchdowns. “It was the same play we talked about on the sideline. He’s probably the best receiver in the section. It felt awesome, especially in overtime, rivalry game.”
After Highland’s overtime score, New Paltz (3-2, 2-2 Class B) got its shot to score, starting with the ball at Highland’s 20. The Huskies sacked New Paltz quarterback Steve Branche on the first two plays of the drive. After a short gain on a screen pass from Branche to Khariff LaBoy, New Paltz was faced with a fourth-and-24 from Highland’s 30-yard line.
Branche went deep down the far sideline, but Adam Cardella picked him off at the 5-yard line to clinch the win, setting off a spirited celebration by Highland. Cory Garcia had two interceptions for Highland on consecutive plays with under 2:00 remaining in the first half, including one he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.
New Paltz pulled to within 14-12 on a 7-yard touchdown run by LaBoy with 6:02 left in the third quarter. Branche connected with Austin Hekking on a pass for the two-point conversion to make it 14-14. LaBoy finished with 157 rushing yards and Highland’s A.J. Buchanan had 110.
“We needed this win,” Buchanan said. “This was a big win. We felt great at practice this week. We were focused, we were there, we wanted to come out and get this win. This is my first win over New Paltz.”
Read more about Highland’s win in Saturday’s editions of Varsity845.com online and in print in the Times Herald-Record.