BEDFORD HILLS Losing one game in a high school football season typically wouldn’t sound any alarms, but Carmel’s loss was so ugly, so troubling that coach Todd Cayea staged something of a midseason mediation.
Cayea brought his players in Monday and spent more of the afternoon philosophizing than coaching football. His Rams had just lost by 31 points to Scarsdale two days earlier, but the problems began days before that.
“I think we got a little too cocky,” said Joe Rodriguez, Carmel’s senior quarterback. “I don’t think losing that game was a horrible thing because it gave us a reality check.”
The Rams rebounded to beat Fox Lane 27-13 on Saturday afternoon and finish their regular season 5-1. Rodriguez connected on all but two of his 15 pass attempts and senior John Morris rushed for 107 yards and two scores.
“Our coach told us Monday to focus on the present, not the future, and to not worry so much about the result,” Rodriguez said. “Honestly, I have so much respect for my team for picking our heads up and having a great week of practice. And you saw the results.”
Player of the game: Joe Rodriguez, Carmel. With leading rusher Kwashon Correa hobbled by a high-ankle sprain, Rodriguez took control of the Rams offense. The fourth-year starting quarterback went 13 for 15 for 169 yards and a touchdown and a two-point pass and rushed for another 54 yards. He converted a fake punt on a pass to Quinn Willman to help set up a touchdown.
Turning point: After a disputed fumble call led to a Fox Lane touchdown late in the third quarter, Carmel faced its only moment of crisis all afternoon. The Rams issued a methodical response, chewing up clock as it marched deep into opposing territory. Correa capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run that effectively put Carmel’s fifth win on ice.
Stat line: Morris led Carmel with 21 carries for 107 yards and scored on a pair of three-yard touchdowns in the first half. … Quinn Willman caught five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown and Ryan Sullivan added five receptions for 44 yards and caught the two-point pass from Rodriguez. … Correa had limited snaps after the first quarter, but finished with 10 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. … Joe Passarelli returned a first-quarter kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown for Fox Lane. Nick Lancia had the Foxes’ other TD.
Quotable: “Today was a very important game for us to see where we’re at in the process,” Cayea said. “I thought the way they came out and played that first half — other than the kickoff return, I thought that was the best first half we played all year long.”