BB&N finishes strong in crushing Rye
WINDSOR, Conn. — The wakeup call John Papas and his coaching staff delivered to their team at halftime proved to be effective.
Leading by just 8 points after 24 minutes, BB&N’s players and coaches knew they should’ve been ahead by a greater margin. Instead, they were letting Rye Country Day School hang around and were allowing the Wildcats to gain confidence.
But that would change in the second half as the Knights scored on three of their first four possessions to turn aside RCDS, 35-14, yesterday in the Jack Etter Bowl at Pratt Field on the campus of the Loomis Chaffee School. Fittingly, this bowl game was named after the long-time BB&N athletic director.
“We challenged our kids in the second half,’’ said Papas, his team finishing the season 8-1. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot in the first half but a lot of that had to do with how good Rye was. We felt we should’ve had at least four or five touchdowns in the first half, and we let our kids know that. But they came back in the second half and responded well.’’
Perhaps the turning point came on the kickoff to begin the second half when junior Nick DiChiara returned the ball 56 yards to the Wildcat 14. Facing a second and goal from the 1, senior Peter Saverese (8 carries for 54 yards, 2 touchdowns) dived into the end zone to make it 21-6.
An interception by Chris Coady on Rye’s ensuing possession set up a Willie Peoples 23-yard scoring strike from Eric Bertino (7 of 13 for 69 yards, 3 touchdowns) midway through the third to push the lead to 22 points.
BB&N’s defense, which struggled in the first half, kept the Wildcats (7-2) at bay in the second. With just over four minutes remaining, the Knights were in total control thanks to another Saverese rushing score from 10 yards out. A Yawer Amin 10-yard scoring pass for Rye in the closing seconds did nothing to take away from BB&N’s celebration.
As a team, the Knights finished with 261 yards. Coady gained a team-high 137 yards on 18 carries.
“I think we proved to ourselves today that we’re a legitimate team to be reckoned with,’’ Coady said. “We got a good talking to at halftime and then we came out and opened it up.’’
BB&N, after recovering a Rye fumble (one of four committed by the Wildcats in the first half), jumped ahead on Brendan O’Neil’s 9-yard catch just two minutes into the game. However, on their next possession, the Wildcats drove 82 yards behind the stellar running of junior Sam Stern (175 yards on 20 carries), which led to his 10-yard scoring run. But the conversion run failed and Rye trailed, 7-6. With 9:34 left before intermission, another Wildcat turnover set up O’Neil’s second scoring reception, this time from 6 yards out.
“We’re a small team that only dresses 24 players,’’ said Rye coach John Calandras. “If we could’ve hung onto the ball we felt we could’ve been up by a touchdown going into the half. That was the worst half of football we’ve played all year.
“We never turn the ball over like that. We have a lot of underclassmen so it could’ve been nerves.’’