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First one, but not done

Comets secure first postseason victory in program history in thriller

Anthony Morgano
Posted 10/31/23

FALLSBURG — Friday night’s 8-man quarterfinal game between Fallsburg and Tri-Valley had a little bit of everything. Highlight reel plays, stellar defensive stands, and some perfectly …

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First one, but not done

Comets secure first postseason victory in program history in thriller


FALLSBURG — Friday night’s 8-man quarterfinal game between Fallsburg and Tri-Valley had a little bit of everything. Highlight reel plays, stellar defensive stands, and some perfectly executed two-minute drills made this game one for the history books. A late touchdown in the final minute of regulation propelled Fallsburg past the defending champs with a 38-32 victory.

The first time these teams met, Fallsburg had little trouble getting past Tri-Valley, deploying all their weapons in a 40-20 victory in Week 2.

Early in the game, it seemed like the Comets would repeat a similar performance as they jumped out to an early 16-0 lead, but the young Bears team has grown a lot since their first meeting, and quickly answered with a score of their own in the second quarter to make it 16-6.

Isaiah Young caught the opening touchdown and scored the 2-point conversion to put the Comets up 8-0, and secured a passing touchdown to Xavier Young with 0.8s remaining in the first quarter.

Tri-Valley’s opening score was a reception by Misha Khodakovski, but an unsuccessful 2-point conversion kept Tri-Valley at a two-score deficit.

On the ensuing drive, Fallsburg moved up the field quickly and Young threw a second passing touchdown, this time to Donovan Hart for the score. Another successful 2-point conversion made it 24-6 with 5:14 to play in the first half.

Tri-Valley’s next drive was marred with penalties by both sides. An offensive holding call gave Tri-Valley a 3rd and long at midfield, but was quickly erased by a defensive pass interference (DPI) to keep the Bears’ drive alive.

Josh Fanslau took to the skies to throw a second first half touchdown, but another unsuccessful 2-point conversion made it 24-12.

After a defensive stand by Tri-Valley, the Bears got the ball back at midfield with 35 seconds to play in the first half. Fanslau launched a Hail Mary towards the end zone, but Donovan Hart sealed the first half with an interception as the teams went into the break.

Tri-Valley won the opening toss and elected to defer to receive the kick to start the third quarter. The plan worked out for them as they efficiently moved the ball up the field and scored after just two minutes and 40 seconds to cut the lead to 24-20 with 9:18 left in the third.

A perfect kick down to the Fallsburg 3-yard-line meant the Comets had to start their next drive under the shadow of their goal post. They were able to get a few positive yards, but a 3-and-out meant punting the ball back to Tri-Valley.

The Comets quickly forced, and recovered, a fumble at midfield to take over on offense. Donovan Hart was all over the place on the next drive, catching and running down into the red zone and ultimately scoring on a reverse to increase the lead to 32-20. Four touchdowns and four 2-point conversions for Tri-Valley gave them a 12-point edge with 3:08 to play in the third.

Tri-Valley started their next drive deep in their own territory, ultimately punting back to Fallsburg. It was a short punt, giving Fallsburg great field position as they set up their offense at the TV 35. Fallsurg was unable to capitalize and had to punt back to Tri-Valley with 10:57 left in the game.

Tri-Valley set up shop and started making their way up the field. Travis Capawana punched in a touchdown with 8:18 left in the game after a catch and run by Khodakovski set the Bears up with a first and goal.

Fallsburg started their next drive on their own 30, getting all the way down to the red zone before a turnover on downs with 3:19 to play.

Tri-Valley needed an 80 yard drive to tie or take the lead with just over three minutes on the game clock. The Bears only needed 2:16 to march the length of the field and punch in the game-tying score, knotting the game up at 32 apiece after another unsuccessful 2-point conversion.

After the kickoff, Fallsburg had just 57.8 seconds to drive 65 yards. Two big plays, a run by Hart and a pass from Nick Storms to Jadiel Monche set the Comets up at the goal line. Storms kept it himself and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 20.4 seconds left in the game, giving Fallsburg a 38-32 lead.

Tri-Valley needed 58 yards and only had 15.5 seconds left to play. The Bears got a first down across midfield and called their final timeout with 8.5 seconds to go.

Fanslau launched a deep pass as time expired, but Xavier Young got a clutch deflection to propel the Comets to victory.

The win marks the first playoff victory for Coach Dom Scanna and the Comets, something the program had been building towards for a decade.

“I’m so proud of the guys,” Scanna said. “Hats off to Tri-Valley for the way they played tonight, but we feel like it’s our time.”

The win means that the Comets will be headed to Lake Huntington Friday night to take on the Bulldogs.

“Sullivan West is a good team,” Scanna said. “But you know what? So are we.”

In the first meeting between Sullivan West and Fallsburg, the Bulldogs were able to break away in the second half thanks to some crafty running by Rally Cruz.

Tri-Valley, on the other hand, defied the expectations set for them this season after graduating 13 seniors after their championship run last year.

“We’re a young team still. Tonight they played the way I knew they could all season,” Tri-Valley Coach Kevin Crudele said. “Everyone said it was going to be a rebuilding year, but we made the playoffs.”

Crudele ended by saying, “All the credit goes to Fallsburg. They’re a well-coached, solid team.”


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