This was everything a rivalry game should be. Big crowd, tons of emotion, some intrigue going into the game, momentum swings throughout, some craziness at the end.
Nanuet regained the Little Brown Jug that Pearl River had held for two years running with a 15-13 win over the Pirates Saturday, a game that wasn't over until big Dan Breit, fittingly, bruised his way to an 8-yard, fourth-and-short, clock-killing first-down run.
Breit ran for 167 yards on 15 carries, and scored an 11-yard touchdown two plays after Shawn Celestin bad blocked a Pearl River punt on the game's first series, setting the tone for the Golden Knights.
"They executed their game plan from the get-go and we had trouble getting started," Pearl River coach Jeff Michael said. "The blocked punt was certainly a momentum changer. To start out with a three-and-out, fine, we're going to let our defense roll. But the blocked punt gave them the momentum they needed right away, Dan Breit made a great run, lowered his shoulder and just rolled over some of our guys and popped it in the end zone. So right from there it was deflating."
It certainly wasn't over, though, even with Nanuet's ground game dominant in the absence of injured starting quarterback Ryan Hanney. Luke Panaro, normally a wideout, ran the offense, which, except for three plays, meant running the football.
Nanuet coach Phil Carbone had planned to rotate Panaro and soph Matt Carney, but he saw that Panaro had the attack clicking behind an enormous game from the offensive line, and stuck with him.
Despite the great start, and the first of two interceptions by Chris Simonsen, though, Nanuet's lead remained 7-0 into the third quarter. Then Breit broke off runs of 31 and 37 yards, leading to Cody Fitzgerald's 1-yard TD leap, and when the Pirates roughed the kicker on the PAT, Carbone sent his offense onto the field and Breit ran in the conversion to make it 15-0.
Pearl River quarterback Chris Van Houten, who finished 18 for 32 for 150 yards, two TDs and two picks, cut it to 15-6 in the third with a 2-yard TD pass to Patrick Gannon (the PAT kick was wide), and then came the drama in the fourth.
Nanuet forced a Pearl River punt, but was called for roughing the kicker. Van Houten was sacked for a loss, but Nanuet was called for a facemask. And down in the red zone, Van Houten was picked off by Matt Galyon, only to have it nullified by a roughing-the-passer call. So Van Houten was able to connect for a 12-yard touchdown with Shane Ocasal, and it was 15-13 with 2:41 left.
Nanuet, though, recovered the onside kick and ran down the clock behind Breit and Pete Smith. Nick O'Connor also gained 66 yards on 15 carries for the Golden Knights.
"It's very special," Panaro said. "Senior year, winning the Brown Jug, getting it back. It's awesome."
"It's huge," Breit said. "We lost the past two years. I was on the team both years and I knew we had to get it back this year or else it was going to eat at me the rest of my life."
Carbone just pointed to the euphoria in the stands.
"Look around," he said. "It means a lot. It means everything to the community, to the kids. I'm so happy for the seniors. They worked their tails off."