Marlboro High School's football team knew Spackenkill maybe better than it knew itself coming into Sunday's Section 9 Class B title game at Dietz Memorial Stadium.
The players who connected on the winning Marlboro score as the Iron Dukes defeated Spackenkill 10-7 in the Section 9 Class B title game over Spackenkill, are essentially brothers.
Marlboro trailed 7-2 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter, when senior quarterback Justin Votta found junior Ralph Malone for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put Marlboro ahead for the first time in a game where offensive opportunities were at a premium.
"That's my brother. I couldn't have done it without him," said Malone, who has lived with Votta and his family for the last 21/2 years as a foster child and will be adopted by the Vottas next month, according to Votta's father. "It was amazing. It was time to make a play. We needed to do something. He threw me the ball and I caught it."
Section 9 named Malone the offensive player of the game. Austin Beck ran in a 2-point conversion to complete the scoring play.
Marlboro (10-0) won its second straight Section 9 Class B championship, the first two in program history.
"It feels great," said Votta, who threw for 55 yards and ran for 21.
"The first time was nice. The second time is even better. It was a matter of just moving it a little every single time and eventually, you'd get in the end zone."
The Iron Dukes face the winner of Sunday's late Section 1 Class B title game between Our Lady of Lourdes and Pleasantville at 7 p.m. on Friday at Dietz Stadium.
"Either team will be a major challenge for us. We'll have to bring our 'A' game," said Marlboro coach Rich Ward, still a little soggy from his postgame celebratory dousing, but still planning to watch the Lourdes-Pleasantville game on Sunday night. "We'll see who we play and on Monday, go back to work."
Marlboro and Spackenkill (7-3) refused to give each other much room all day . In the first half alone, each team had three interceptions with Marlboro's Matt Tamburri, Ryan Cary and Jake Cherubini earning picks, while Spackenkill's Trevor Dolan, Marc Horvath and Josh Riley matched the opponents with interceptions.
Riley, who was named the defensive player of the game by Section 9, had 13 tackles. Tamburri said the most difficult aspect of the game was how tight the defense was.
"We knew what defenses they were running. They knew what defenses we were running," Tamburri said of Spackenkill, whom Marlboro also toppled in last year's title game. "It just came down to a battle and, luckily, we came out with a win in the end."
After Tamburri and Dolan exchanged interceptions in the first quarter, Marlboro got on the scoreboard first as Ryan Greaven tackled Wayne Bowden in the Spackenkill end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
Riley caught a 15-yard pass from Evan Loughran with 5 seconds left in the half to put the Spartans ahead 7-2 . Riley juggled the ball -- first with his left hand, then his right, then his left again -- but clasped them on the ball as he fell to the ground while being harassed by Marlboro's Alain Dumas. The Spartans' Nicky Reynolds kicked the extra point.
"We knew in the halftime we had to make a couple of adjustments in the blocking schemes," Ward said. "We knew we had to throw the ball. (Spackenkill's) front six or seven are pretty good. Josh Riley is a player you have to reckon with. We came up with a couple of big plays in the passing game, finished one and then we finished it out."
Spackenkill's best opportunity to tie the score midway through the fourth quarter after Bowden had a 30-yard run and Nick Celestino had an 18-yard run, but Spackenkill went three-and-out and Marlboro ran the clock down.