CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – A 27-point deficit early in the second half might seem insurmountable to some teams, but Harrison High School did not view it that way Friday night.
Harrison capped an improbable second-half rally with a Kevin Nathanson touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the game to clinch a 35-34 victory over John Jay in a Section 1 Class A football game in Cross River.
Harrison, now 2-0, scored 28 unanswered points en route to the victory. It is the second consecutive week the Huskies used a huge second half to propel them to a win.
Harrison had a rough first half and found itself trailing John Jay-Cross River by 20 points, and that trend continued when the host added to its lead 90 seconds into the second half.
John Jay ran a fake punt, with punter Brandon Lee throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Beck. Mike Corrado’s extra point gave John Jay what appeared to be an insurmountable 27-0 lead.
Harrison adjusted, however, and battled back for the win.
“It felt great and it was a resilient effort by us,” said senior quarterback Vinnie Nicita, who finished 10 of 17 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Harrison rumbled for 193 yards in the second half, led by Nathanson, who carried 10 times for 105 yards. Nicita completed five of nine passes in the second half for 126 yards, including a 38-yard scoring strike to Michael Amicucci.
“In the first half it looked a lot worse than what it really was because we were moving the ball, but we were making mistakes and penalties hurt us,” Nicita said. “We found the point to go after their defense and we kept running the same play over and over. Our guards and tackles were doing a great job of opening holes. That opened up the passing game and Coach (Art) Troilo showed confidence in me to throw the ball.”
Amicucci initiated the comeback with 3-yard touchdown run on Harrison’s first series of the second half.
While Harrison’s offense was gaining momentum with each play, the defense completely shut down John Jay’s high-flying offense in the second half. John Jay managed just 67 yards on offense.
“We just buckled down, sprinted to our spots and said 'we can’t let them beat us,'” Nicita said. “They were hurting us with the quarterback running up the middle in the first half. In the second half, we had our linebackers key on the quarterback and sent them.”