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Scarsdale Beats Mamaroneck, Earns Playoff Berth

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- Scarsdale went into halftime Saturday with a one-point lead over Mamaroneck, but the Raiders were not pleased.

Mamaroneck had scored in the final minute. Only a missed extra point allowed Scarsdale to maintain a lead. Knowing that a loss would eliminate Scarsdale from the playoffs, the Raiders understood what they needed to do.

“In the locker room at halftime, we all agreed that we were better than how we played in the first half and we needed to step up,” said fullback/linebacker Jacob Berkowitz.Scarsdale followed through on its analysis, scoring quickly in the second half and thwarting a Mamaroneck surge in a 21-19 victory.

The win clinched a berth in the Section 1 Class AA Football Championships. Scarsdale, now, 4-3, will learn who its first-round opponent is after the Section 1 Football Championships seeding meeting is held Sunday. No matter the opponent, Scarsdale will play Thursday.

Scarsdale needed the victory in order to qualify for sectionals for a second consecutive year. Mamaroneck dropped to 3-4, but will also play next week against a to-be-determined opponent.

“This feels amazing,” said Berkowitz, who had an 18-yard touchdown run. “We are a legitimate team and we have grown as the season progressed. It’s amazing being in the playoffs.”

Mamaroneck drew to within a point, 14-13, on quarterback Parker Thelander’s 1-yard sneak with 8.9 seconds remaining. This came after Scarsdale fumbled deep inside Mamaroneck territory.

Scarsdale opened the second half with 10-play, 45-yard drive, capped off by an Andrew Verboys’ 1-yard plunge. The Raiders overcame what appeared to be a crippling penalty on the first play of the second half. Tim Leone took an option pitch from Verboys for 31 yards to the Mamaroneck 14, but it was negated by a penalty.

Scarsdale, now backed up to its 45, ran the same play, with Leone scampering for 11 yards. Anthony Cugini added a 16-yard run in the drive, but it was Leone who made a pivotal play when he recovered a fumbled snap at the 8-yard line.

Two plays later, Verboys punched it in, with 6:45 in the third quarter, and Jeremy Smith tacked on the extra point for a 21-13 lead. “That was huge for us,” Berkowitz said. “That showed that this was our game.”

Scarsdale’s defense stifled Mamaroneck’s explosive halfback Brett Poniros, holding him to a season-low 18 yards rushing. Poniros rushed for 172 yards last week against Port Chester. The Raiders prepared for Poniros and were given a workout in practice.

“We had our teammate, Bobby Plummer, wear an orange jersey in practice this week,” said Berkowitz, who is also a Section 1 wrestling champion. “Bobby is one of our fastest players and we had him running his (Poniros’) plays. That helped us a lot.  We knew we had to stay in our gaps because he is a good cut-back runner. We did this and we didn’t give him any room to run.”

Mamaroneck remained in the game thanks to the right arm of Thelander. The senior completed 14 of 21 passes for 175 yards and two scores. Thelander, who threw scoring strikes to Matt Marino and Will Hoffman, was especially effective rolling to his left. Thelander did an excellent job, when rolling left, of squaring his shoulders and zipping the ball to his receivers.

“I am very proud of Parker,” Mamaroneck Coach Anthony Vitti said. “He played his best football game, as a Mamaroneck Tiger, today. I am also proud of the team. We wanted to test ourselves and we knew that Scarsdale was a good team. We made a few mistakes that hurt us, but I felt we did a good job of creating things when situations were not there.”

Mamaroneck 0 13 0 6 -- 19Scarsdale 7 7 7 0 -- 21

Scarsdale -- Eric Berman 2 run (Jeremy Smith kick).Scarsdale -- Jacob Berkowitz 18 run (Smith kick).Mamaroneck -- Matt Marino 11 pass from Parker Thelander (Alexis Contreras kick).Mamaroneck -- Thelander 1 run (kick failed).Scarsdale -- Andrew Verboys 1 run (Smith kick).Mamaroneck -- Will Hoffman 9 pass from Thelander (pass failed).

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