Turnovers were the difference in a last Saturday’s Nassau Conference II cross-town showdown between visiting Kennedy and Calhoun, as four interceptions by the Kennedy secondary paved the way to a 20-7 victory.
The big play of the day was a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kennedy’s John Austin-Emory in the second quarter to give Kennedy a two-touchdown lead they would not relinquish. “We got a couple of big plays,” Cougars head coach Nick Martone said. “Defensively, the past three weeks have been outstanding. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Calhoun starting quarterback Kevin Dolan left the game with a collarbone injury after being sacked in the first quarter, and did not return. He was replaced by sophomore Tom Oestreich.
Kennedy’s first score came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christopher Racalbuto to senior Ralph Faiella midway through the second quarter, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead. Austin Emory’s pick-six came shortly after to extend the advantage. “We’d like to see the offense click a little more than it did today,” said Martone, “but [Calhoun] is a very tough football team, and they came out very hard in the beginning.”
A big pass from Oestreich to receiver T.J. Marrapodi late in the second quarter gave Calhoun a first-and-goal opportunity, but a fumble on the next play gave Kennedy the ball back, spoiling the scoring chance. “Turnovers definitely hurt us today,” Calhoun head coach Jeff Haruthunian said. “The ball bounced a little more in their direction than it did in ours.”
Kennedy received a fortunate bounce on the kickoff to open the second-half, as a short squib kick bounced off a Calhoun player and found its way into the arms of junior Tim Kutil to give the Cougars possession. The play led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Racalbuto to extend Kennedy’s lead to 20-0.
Calhoun finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter, when running back Brandon Lee punched the ball into the end zone from four yards out to make it 20-7. “Our running game definitely worked, it’s just unfortunate we had some turnovers in the air,” Haruthunian said.
Faiella added two interceptions to his stat sheet, propelling Kennedy to a 3-4 conference record, and dropping Calhoun to 1-6.
Kennedy sits in eighth place in the conference, which would give them the conference’s final playoff spot if it holds on. “It looks like right now, we might be close to another playoff bid depending on how things unfold the next couple of weeks,” Martone said. “This group deserves it. They give us everything they got every single day.”