HARTSDALE, N.Y. -- Once Jackson Plimpton snared his first catch -- a 63-yard reception from quarterback Ryan Hooper -- Briarcliff discovered something.
We felt that the deep pass was going to be there, Plimpton said. Coach (John Consorti) knew it and that was our game plan. It worked and Briarcliff managed to escape with a 32-29 victory over Irvington at Woodlands.
Unfortunately, other than the reception, Briarcliff was struggling offensively through the first 17 minutes and facing a 13-point deficit in its season-opener with Irvington, Saturday.
This changed once Jonathan Marrero returned the kick-off 83 yards for a touchdown. Briarcliff would pull within a point at halftime on a Hooper to Plimpton 28-yard scoring strike. In the second half, Briarcliff aired it out. Hooper connected on two large scoring throws.
Hooper finished 9 of 15 for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Plimpton caught four pass, three going for touchdowns -- 65, 56 and 28 yards -- for 220 yards.
When Ryan threw me the first long pass, it established that confidence, Plimpton said. Ryan has two great receivers in Jonathan Marrero and me. He knows if he throws it up there, one of us will come down with it.
It was Marrero who got Briarcliff into the game with his kick-off return. On Briarcliffs next series, his 30-yard punt return fueled a touchdown drive.
That was a big play, said Plimpton of the return for touchdown. Its great when you have a big player like Jonathan on special teams. It started a rally.
On Briarcliffs first play of the second half, Hooper hit Marrero in stride for a 78-yard touchdown, giving the Bears their first lead, 18-13.
However, Irvington would answer back when Alex Bennett blocked a punt and Jonah Rosenblum picked it up and raced 18 yards for the touchdown. Dillon DArrigo hit John Cofre for the two-point conversion, giving Irvington a 21-13 lead.
The lead would be brief.
Briarcliff struck on the first play of its ensuing series as Hooper found Plimpton streaking down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. Irvington grabbed a quick 13-0 lead on fullback Kevin Degnans 11-yard rumble a a DArrigo to Shoran Tamura 23-yard touchdown throw.
First-year Irvington coach Mike Oliva was proud of his team for playing hard to the final whistle. The Bulldogs closed to within a field goal on a late touchdown with 50 seconds remaining.
Are we going to hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves or are we going to come back Monday and have a good day and good week of practice? Oliva said. We had a great week of practice leading up to this game. I think we played very well as a team.
Irvington trailed by 11 points with just over three minutes remaining, but marched to a touchdown as Degnan plowed in from the two.
Many teams would have looked at the scoreboard and folded, but that was an unbelievable effort, said Oliva of the final touchdown. We know we have a group of kids we can win with. Degnan finished with 24 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett had a sack and blocked punt and Chris DiNardo also had a sack. Briarcliff 0-12-13-7 -- 32Irvington 7-6-8-8 -- 29Irvington -- Kevin Degnan 11 run (James Silverberg kick)Irvington -- Shoran Tamura 23 pass from Dillon DArrigo (kick failed)Briarcliff -- Jonathan Marrero 83 kick-off return (kick failed)Briarcliff -- Jackson Plimpton 28 pass from Ryan Hooper (pass failed)Briarcliff -- Jonathan Marrerro 78 pass from Ryan Hooper (pass failed)Irvington -- Jonah Rosenblum 18 blocked punt (Jon Cofre pass from Dillon DArrigo)Briarcliff -- Jackson Plimpton 65 pass from Ryan Hooper (Matt Pasternak kick)Briarcliff -- Jackson Plimpton 56 pass from Colin Orr (Matt Pasternak kick)Irvington -- Kevin Degnan 2 run (Hunter Gizzi run)
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