WICOPPEE – Plenty of flattery was exchanged before the football game as the John Jay seniors and their parents were honored during the school’s homecoming ceremonies on Friday.
Plenty of compliments to go around. Then there were complements.
As in the Patriots defense and special teams providing perfect compliments to its offense in a 29-8 victory over North Rockland High School.
Bristol Smith had a breakout game, running for 159 yards and two touchdowns to lead John Jay (4-1). And Ryan Schumacher, serving in a rare complementary role, threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score.
Quite often this season, it has been Schumacher’s dominance — in the air or on the ground — that has sparked this team. This time, it was the complementary parts who shined most.
The Patriots offensive line created lanes, up the middle and around the edges. Its defensive line, after yielding a couple long misdirection runs early on, was near impenetrable in the second half.
Frank DiFusco ran for 56 yards and Nick Donaldson had an 18-yard touchdown reception.
John Jay capitalized on a turnover, recovering a fumble at the 30. Four plays later, Ryan Schumacher hit Nick Donaldson for an 18-yard touchdown. The subsequent two-point conversion (a quick pass to Travis Contreras) tied the score at 8 with 2:24 left in the first half.
Schumacher ran for 10 yards to pick up a first down, and on the ensuing play, Donaldson got open in the seam. He spun around to haul in the pass then skipped backwards into the end zone.
Smith put the Patriots ahead for good, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown run with 7:21 left in the third quarter. Smith darted up the middle and outran the pursuit to the end zone, and Danny Diedrich’s two-point conversion run made it 16-8.
Then, the Patriots special teams had its say. After the defense forced a North Rockland punt, John Jay’s block unit forced the line backwards and the punter’s kick went into the back of a teammate, traveling only a few yards. That set the Patriots up at the 38.
Smith rushed for 21 yards on the drive and Schumacher capped it, scoring from 5 yards out to make it 23-8 with 1:26 left in the third. The quarterback charged in off left guard, slipping an ankle tackle along the way.
John Jay’s offense struggled for most of the first half, but its defense prevented North Rockland from capitalizing. CJ D’Andrea had a sack in the third quarter and DiFusco and Max Maybaum each had three tackles for loss. Defensive end Bailey Rodriguez twice flushed quarterback Dylan Senatore from the pocket and applied pressure on punts.
The Raiders had taken an 8-0 lead with 8:27 left in the second quarter on Dylan Senatore’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Brown. The quarterback lobbed a pin-point pass that found Brown between bracket coverage on a corner route. John Jay punt had pinned the Raiders at their 6, but North Rockland mounted a 10-play drive, highlighted by Tyler Senatore’s 39-yard scamper off left tackle.
After dropping its season opener in a bitter, last-minute loss to New Rochelle, the Patriots have reeled off four straight victories, each week looking more impressive than the previous. There still are areas of improvement, but John Jay gradually is rounding into form. Slowly but surely, its beginning to resemble the team that captured the first Section 1 Class AA title last year.
And that, perhaps, is the greatest compliment this group can be paid.
Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4