Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Curry Athletics

ITHACA, N.Y. - Senior quarterback Ryan Van De Giesen (Bridgton Academy/North Attleboro, Mass.) threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game – a 12-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Norman Landry (Bellingham/Blackstone, Mass.) – with 32 seconds left to lead the seventh-seeded Curry Colonels (10-1) to a 26-21 win over the second-seeded Ithaca Bombers (9-2) Saturday in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. The Colonels advance to play at third-seeded Cortland in the regional semifinals Saturday at noon.

Landry’s touchdown catch capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive that began at the Colonel 37 with just 68 seconds left. Van De Giesen completed passes to four receivers on the drive, with a 26-yard completion to senior wideout Brian Taylor (Lowell/Lowell, Mass.) on the drive’s first play moving Curry into Bomber territory. Freshman running back Michael Gentili (Worcester Academy/Leominster, Mass.) ran for a two-point conversion following the winning touchdown.

The Bombers took over on their own 39 with 30 second left. Following a 20-yard pass from junior quarterback Brian Grastorf (Niskayuna/Rexford) to senior wide receiver *Kyle Crandall (Herkimer/Herkimer) on Ithaca’s first play and a pass interference penalty on Curry that moved the ball to the Colonel 25, the Bombers threw three incomplete passes to end the game.

Ithaca had taken its final lead late in the third quarter on a touchdown set up by a blocked punt. Senior Matt Samela (Staples/Westport, Conn.) blocked a Curry punt that senior teammate Craig Liebler (Eden/Eden) recovered on the Colonel 14. Two plays later Crandall caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Grastorf.

Van De Giesen threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns. He capped Curry’s first drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to junior fullback Jon Sughrue (Pinkerton Academy/Fremont, N.H.), two plays after a screen pass to junior running back Jamaal Woods (Bridgton Academy/Malden, Mass.) gained 80 yards on the first Colonel play from scrimmage. Senior cornerback Jason Chier (Chenango Forks/Binghamton) blocked Curry’s extra point attempt (the Colonels had two extra points and a field goal blocked, failed on a two-point conversion try and lost nine yards on a field-goal attempt following a high snap).

A pair of Ithaca touchdowns put the Bombers up 14-6. Grastorf threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Brian Weverbergh (Staples/Westport, Conn.) midway through the first quarter and the first of three extra points by freshman *Andrew Rogowski (Canisius/East Amherst)* gave the Bombers their first lead.

Late in the second quarter senior linebacker Matt Scalice (North Tonawanda/North Tonawanda) recovered a fumble on a Colonel punt return on the Curry 18-yard line. Five plays later, sophomore Dan Ruggiero (Pen Argyl/Pen Argyl, Pa.) scored on a five-yard run.

The Colonels ran the first 18 offensive plays of the second half, scoring a pair of touchdowns. They took the second-half kickoff 70 yards in 12 plays, scoring on an 11-yard scoring reception by Taylor. Curry maintained possession after recovering the ensuing kickoff; the Colonels’ short kick – caused when the kicker slipped on the snowy field – bounced off a Bomber and was recovered by the Colonels. Van De Giesen threw a 21-yard pass to junior tight end Jeff Hibbard (Dedham/Dedham, Mass.) to put the Colonels up 18-14.

Taylor caught a game-best seven passes for 77 yards. Woods picked up 104 receiving yards (on just two catches) and ran for a team-leading 75 yards. Gentili and Van De Giesen rushed for 51 and 36 yards, respectively.

Senior defensive end Aaron Smith (Winthrop/Winthrop, Mass.) led Curry’s defense with seven tackles, including a sack. He forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered by junior linebacker Scott Driscoll (North Andover/North Andover, Mass.), who also broke up two passes. Junior linebackers Mike Murray (Brockton/Brockton, Mass.) and junior linebacker Daniel Dawson (Stoneham/Stoneham, Mass.) both made six tackles.

Ruggiero gained a game-high 138 rushing yards on a Bomber playoff-record 33 carries. Crandall was Ithaca’s leading receiver with three catches for 52 yards. Weverbergh caught three passes as well. Senior linebacker John Scanlon (Amity/Choate Rosemary Hall/Bethany, Conn.) led Ithaca’s defense with 10 tackles. Sophomore strong safety David Ahonen (Farmington/Victor) made nine tackles (including six solo stops), blocked the extra point attempt after the Colonels’ second touchdown and broke up the conversion pass following their third attempt. Chier intercepted a pass – his school-record-tying eighth of the season – blocked an extra point, tackled Curry’s holder on an aborted field goal attempt and blocked a Colonel field goal attempt on the final play of the first half.