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Out of the blue

"Air Bears" stun unbeaten Pawling to advance to the title game

Richard A. Ross
Posted 11/8/22

PAWLING – Oftentimes in life, the most daunting adversaries are the ones you least expect. For the undefeated Pawling Tigers, most likely anticipating a Section IX Eight-Man Football title …

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Out of the blue

"Air Bears" stun unbeaten Pawling to advance to the title game


PAWLING – Oftentimes in life, the most daunting adversaries are the ones you least expect. For the undefeated Pawling Tigers, most likely anticipating a Section IX Eight-Man Football title clash against rival Spackenkill, the shock and awe of Tri-Valley’s 32-26 win on their home field will remain a stinging blow for quite some time to come. 

In these days of video scouting via HUDL, coaches’ schemes for both offense and defense are predicated strongly on what they have seen opponents do on film. It would come as no surprise that Pawling, having seen the unflappable runs of T-V senior QB Austin Hartman, would be preparing to try and rein in the escape artist dynamo, and consequently T-V’s offense, which for the most part this year has appeared to be essentially one dimensional. 

However, great coaching is also about preparing your team to evince the unexpected. As T-V head coach Kevin Crudele pointed out, “At the outset of the season we simply could not catch. We’ve spent a great portion of our practices working on catching the football and now it’s an integral part of our game.” As HUDL sheds no light on practices, T-V’s sudden airborne effectiveness was key to the Bears upset victory over a very fine Pawling squad. 

Hartman, no stranger to scoring four TD’s  in games, logged another four spot,  but this time it came via a pair of TD passes to Zach Kitaychick and Ian Mullen to go along with his emblematic TD runs that included a first quarter 70-yard jaunt and a third quarter two-yard dive. Stalwart senior Dylan Poley provided what would be the winning edge with his helmet-down four-yard blast into the endzone with 6:26 remaining in the game. Hartman’s conversion pass to Mullen made it 32-20, but two late fumbles by the Bears could have cost them their hard-fought victory. 

With 5:05 remaining in the game, and nursing that seemingly comfortable 32-20 lead, Hartman’s 38-yard run ended with a fumble recovered by Pawling’s Noah Holt who galloped into the endzone for the score to make it 32-26 with 4:13 to go. After a trio of offsides penalties on the kickoffs, T-V ended up with the ball on their own 43. 

To the dismay of the Bears, their coaches and avid fans on the sidelines, the Bears fumbled it again and Pawling recovered it with 3:40 to go. A TD would tie the game and an added conversion would likely give the Tigers the unlikely win. 

But the Bears’ defense, which had come up with key stops all day, held on. T-V took over on downs with 2:46. With no time outs left, the Tigers had to let the clock run and hope to get the ball back for one last ditch try for the tie and or win. But Hartman completed a pass to Kitaychik at the 15 for a first down on the third and five attempt and T-V was able to kneel to run the clock down to one second and a pass for Heymach was intercepted by Mullen. 

This was an incredibly hard-fought game. At the outset, the Bears won the toss and elected to defer. T-V had seen enough of Pawling senior running back/receiver Freddy Heymach and QB Brett Clowry as well as imposing junior Noah Holt to know all about Pawling’s offensive firepower. Recovering a Pawling fumble on the Tigers’ opening drive was an auspicious start. Two plays later Hartman took off on the edge for a 70-yard TD run with 8:32 to go in the first quarter for the 6-0 lead. Pawling nixed the conversion and answered back one minute later with a 46-yard pass from Clowry to Holt to tie the game. Pawling converted the 2-point attempt to take an 8-6 lead. 

T-V garnered a first down on its next drive but ended up punting it back. A sack by Dylan Poley set the Tigers back and an incomplete pass to Heymach led to a punt. The Bears fared no better on their next set of downs and punted to Pawling. As time was about to expire on the quarter, Heymach made a highlight reel 22-yard leaping catch in the end zone. Clowry’s conversion pass to Heymach was no good but the Tigers now held a 14-6 edge. 

After last week’s gritty victory over Pine Plains in which Hartman scored five TD’s, he earned the nickname “The Answer,” as did the Bears. Handed the question again about how to respond, Hartman provided the response with a 20-yard TD pass to senior Ian Mullen to close the gap to 14-12. Pawling increased its lead by dint of a 20-yard pass to Heymach. Clowry’s conversion run was stopped, and the Tigers now led 20-12. 

Answer? Yes. Hartman’s 45-yard pass to Kitaychik with nine seconds left in the half closed the gap to 20-18 at the half. 

The Bears went ahead 24-20 on a two-yard run by Hartman. His conversion run was stopped. Poley’s fourth quarter TD on a four-yard dive made it 32-20. Holt’s fumble recovery return would end the scoring at 32-26. 

T-V is now 7-2 and heading to Spackenkill on November 11. The Spartans beat Sullivan West 26-12 in the other semifinal. 

“I’ve got a great group of kids on this team. The seniors have been playing together since kindergarten,” said Crudele just before the team drenched him with Gatorade. 

T-V stats: Total offense 485 yards on 77 plays for a 6.3 yards per play average. Passing: Hartman 12/25/217 with two TD’s and two interceptions averaging 16.1 yards per pass. Rushing: 52/268/5.2 ypr. Turnovers: two fumbles, two interceptions. Penalties 8/55. First downs 22. Third down conversions 7/18. Fourth down conversions 4/7.  Receiving: Kitaychik 3/105 and a TD; Mullen 6/75 and a TD. Josh Carmody 2/42. Rushing: Hartman 33/200/6.1; Poley: 10/37/3.7. Carmody 3/17/5.7; Kitaychik 3/16/5.3. Defensive leaders: Danny Winters 6 tackles; Talan Scanna four tackles. 


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