Dome bound: Tuckahoe earns comeback win

by Jordan Griffith on
Fri, Nov 16, 2012 11:27 AM

Updated Sat, Nov 17, 2012 4:53 PM

It certainly wasn’t the way Tuckahoe wanted to start their state semifinal matchup against Rensselaer. After giving up a 72-yard kickoff return for touchdown to open the game, the Tigers posted just 65 yards of offense and were dominated in the time-of-possession battle before the break.

“We were down but it was really early, so we knew we weren’t out,” said Tuckahoe senior Mike Arborn. “We had a good defense the whole year so we knew we were going to step it up. We were going to play well and get it back.”

As the old saying goes, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” The Tigers are headed back to the Carrier Dome.

Tuckahoe overcame the first half deficit to defeat Rensselaer 14-12 and advance to the New York State Class D championship. The Tigers will play in the championship Friday, November 23 at noon against Section 6’s Randolph. This is Tuckahoe’s second championship appearance in the last three seasons.

“It feels awesome (to return to the Carrier Dome),” said Tuckahoe senior captain Nick Reisman, who played on the state championship team in 2010. “I couldn’t have done it with a better team. We played with heart. Every guy brought it and every guy did their job.”

The Tigers trailed 6-0 at the half but found their offense in the third quarter. Shyheim Nixon broke a big run to the Rensselaer 6-yard line and then Reisman punched it in to give Tuckahoe the lead. The Rams bounced back in the fourth to go ahead on Seth Butler’s touchdown with 5:13 remaining, but Kayvon Reid broke up the two point conversion to make it 12-7.

Nixon would carry the team again and broke another big run to set up a five yard touchdown by Reisman with 3:13 left in the game. With Tuckahoe leading 14-12, the Rams would try one final drive to take home the win, but on fourth-and-nine from the Rensselaer 24, John Paulino broke up a deep pass to seal the victory.

“Our coaches on the sideline did a great job of telling me what to do on the play,” said Paulino, who also had an interception in the first quarter. “I knew it was a big play and I had to make it. (Star wide receiver Tyler Oliver) got up in the air and had the ball for a second, but I didn’t give up and was able to punch it out. It was incredible.”

Reisman took home the game’s offensive MVP trophy, rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while Nixon ran for 116 yards on 12 carries. Arborn, who had a sack in the game, was given the defensive MVP award for his tough play inside. Bryan Madan also had a momentum-changing sack late in the game and Mike Castracucco had an interception to go along with Paulino’s.

The defense of Tuckahoe may have been the difference in the game, particularly in the first half when Rensselaer drove deep into Tigers territory. The Rams seemed to be on the verge of breaking the game open but couldn’t find a way to score.

“Once you’re this far into the tournament, everyone is going to be good,” Arborn said. “You have to be prepared for the best. All week in practice, the secondary went over every coverage we could think of. We have a great defense and they didn’t score until late, besides that opening kickoff. We just had to step it up.”

For Rensselaer, Butler had 84 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries, while Steven Harwood was 8-for-16 for 109 yards in the air. Brandon Butler had three receptions for 61 yards and Tyler Stasack had the 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game.

Tuckahoe advances to the state championship game for the fifth time under head coach John D’Arco Sr. Several of the players from the state championship team in 2010 are still with the team and D’Arco says the experience will be valuable heading in.

The team will eat Thanksgiving dinner and then play the following day at noon.

“It’s going to taste great,” D’Arco joked. “We go up to Syracuse and we have chicken, we don’t have turkey. Turkey makes you sleepy and sluggish and tired. We learned that after the first time up there.”

NYSPHSAA Class D Semifinal
At Dietz Stadium, Kingston, Nov. 16

Tuckahoe 14, Rensselaer 12

Tuckahoe (8-2-1)






Rensselaer (10-2)






Scoring summary
First quarter
Rn — Tyler Stasack 72 kick return (run failed)
Third quarter
Tk— Reisman 6 run (kick good)
Fourth quarter
Rn — Seth Butler 1 run (pass failed)
Tk — Reisman 5 run (kick good)

Offensive statistics
RUSHING (att-yards): Tuckahoe-
 Shyheim Nixon 12-116, Nick Reismas 20-77, Kayvon Reid 6-5. Totals: 38-198. Rensselaer- Seth Butler 23-84, Austin Fahrenkopf 6-13, Steven Harwood 8-8, Jake Forgea 2-7, James Stevens 2-4. Totals: 42-116.
PASSING (comp-att-yards-TD-INT): Tuckahoe- Nixon 1-4-5-0-0.. Rensselaer- Harwood 8-16-109-0-2.
RECEIVING (rec-yards): Tuckahoe- Michael Castracucco 1-5. Rensselaer- B. Butler 3-61, Fahrenkopf 3-30, Tyler Oliver 2-18.
TOTAL YARDS: Tuckahoe 203. Rensselaer 225.


Scores / Schedules

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