When the first half ended, players and coaches were in shock. Rye Country Day had just spiked the ball on third-and-goal from less than a foot but to no avail. The Wildcats had been that close to scoring their season's first touchdown, but the wait would continue.
Six quarters were down and they remained scoreless.
"It was very frustrating," junior Tyler Fernandez said. "Last week we moved the ball well too and we ended up fumbling."
Finally, no manner of miscues or misplays could keep Rye Country Day off the board in the second half. Fernandez punched in a fourth-down run from the 1 midway through the third quarter and allowed the young Wildcats to settle in. They went on to beat Bronxville 22-7 in a dominant effort.
Rye Country Day (1-1) outgained the Broncos 425-119, including 157 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) from Fernandez. Senior star Raishaun McGhee showed the dynamic talent that has attracted interest from several Ivy League schools, including Harvard. The quarterback went 14 for 21 for 164 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards.
"They did it all today," coach John Calandros said. "Offense, defense, punt return, kick return -- they did not come off the field one time today. They really led by example. They're the reason why the younger players played so well was because of their leadership."
Rye Country Day needed guidance from its leaders with just two seniors on the field for much of the afternoon. The Wildcats were without five starters due to injury, including captain Henry Heller, a two-way player.
Their inexperience showed early. The score remained 0-0 into halftime despite the Broncos (1-2) mustering little outside of strong punting by Owen Jones.
Rye Country Day chewed up six minutes to open the second half and marched 71 yards for its first score from Fernandez. On the next drive, Tyler Miller caught a short pass and bowled over a defender to get in for an 8-yard score.
Bronxville responded quickly on Aaron Srebnik's first and only run of the game, a 61-yard touchdown. But with their confidence on offense restored, the Wildcats responded again. Fernandez made a twisting shoestring catch on third-and-goal from the 12 to give them a 22-7 lead.
"I think it's just a matter of us making a big play, but then taking a play off," Bronxville coach Jeff Napolitano said. "They capitalized on that."
"It was hard because we had a lot of people playing new positions, especially on the line," McGhee said. "They worked hard. That's all we can ask for. They got after it."
Rye Country Day visits Roosevelt next week for a third straight non-league game against a Section 1 opponent. The defending Fairchester champ lost 18-0 to Tuckahoe last week.
"This means the world," Fernandez said. "We don't think we played well last week. We think if we played Tuckahoe again it would be a different outcome. But it's great to play Section 1 teams and prove we're a force to be reckoned with."