CROSS RIVER, N.Y. Declan Myer has been waiting to return a kickoff all season and when he finally got his chance, Thursday, he brought the crowd to its feet.
The John Jay-Cross River senior returned the kick 99 yards for a touchdown, seizing the momentum back from Somers. This sent the top-seeded Indians to a 28-7 win over the fourth-seeded Tuskers in a Section 1 Class A Championship quarterfinal game on a raw, rainy/snowy night.
John Jay, which extended its winning streak to seven consecutive games, will host Rye in a semifinal, Tuesday, at a time to be determined. Rye eliminated Pearl River, 14-7, for its fifth straight win.
John Jay and Rye met in week two of the regular season with the Indians prevailing, 14-7.Danny Caiola rushed for 170 yards on 28 carries and scored three touchdowns. Jack Lambert had a 66-yard run setting up Caiolas first touchdown.
Myers return was one of two pivotal plays turned in by John Jays special teams. In the first quarter, Caiola raced around the corner and blocked a 38-yard field-goal attempt by Thomas Barcia.
I havent returned a kickoff all season and I am on the return man, said Myer, with a laugh.
Somers, 5-3, opened the second half with a 10-play, 63-yard drive, all on the ground, capped by a Chris Silva 6-yard scoring run. Barcias extra point brought Somers within seven, 14-7. Somers was fired up after scoring and had grabbed the momentum. And when Barcias kick traveled to the John Jay 1-yard line, the Tuskers appeared to have the Indians backed up. That notion changed quickly.
Coach (Clark) told us after Somers scored that he didnt want us letting the momentum go to them so we needed to step up and make a play, Myer said.
Myer said he heard people on the sideline yelling to him, Let it go, but he wanted this return. With Somers players charging down the right side of the field, Myer caught the ball on the left hash mark, and raced diagonally across the field. Once Myer got his 20-yard line, he burst through a huge hole and took off.
We had the return set up to the right, Myer said. I just angled and set up my blocks to the outside. There was a huge alley way and the adrenaline was pumping.
Caiola, who was on the sideline, seemed to know Myer was gone once he began angling right on the return.
Declan has great vision and is a great athlete who makes things happen, Caiola said. Once I saw him make that cut through the first line of defense, I knew he was gone.
This gave John Jay a 21-7 lead with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The teams were scoreless in the first quarter when Somers lined up for a 38-yard field-goal attempt. Caiola noticed something immediately as he stepped to the line of scrimmage.
Their wingback was in and up so I felt if I gave him a speed rush, I could get outside quick and get a good angle at the holder, Caiola said.
Caiola laid out in midair and blocked the kick, setting up John Jay at its 28. One play later, quarterback Jack Lambert catapulted himself up the middle for a 66-yard run, to the Somers six. On the next play, Caiola crossed the goal line.
Other than the drive to open the second half, John Jays defense stifled Somers. The Tuskers found little success running the ball and even less success in the air as the Indians picked off two passes.
In the first half, our defensive line had their assignments down pat and out linebackers and secondary were stepping up to make big hits, Myer said.
Somers 0 0 7 0 7 John Jay 7 7 14 0 28
John Jay Danny Caiola 6 run (Michael Corrado kick)John Jay Caiola 1 run (Corrado kick)Somers Chris Silva 6 run (Thomas Barcia kick)John Jay Declan Myer 99 kick-off return (Corrado kick)John Jay Caiola 38 run (Corrado kick)
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.