Ravena pulls away late to end Peru's season

Peru's Zach O'Connell (5) tries to slip past Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk's Ryan Southworth (42) during a NYSPHSAA Class B football regional final Friday at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany. (Ryan Hayner/P-R Photo)

ALBANY — When Zach O’Connell scored on a kick return early in the fourth quarter Friday night to trim Peru’s deficit to four, and the defense followed with a big stop, it seemed momentum had turned in the Nighthawks’ favor.

Then disaster struck.

Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk came up with an interception and scored on the following play for a double-digit lead that propelled the Indians to a 39-21 win over Peru in the NYSPHSAA Class B football regional finals at Christian Brothers Academy.

Franky Broadhurst rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns for Section II champion Ravena (10-2), which moves on to play the winner of Pleasantville and Port Jervis next weekend in the state semifinals at Middletown High School.

O’Connell completed 21-of-37 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns for Peru, with Keegan Smith the recipient of both receiving scores. Jack Hanson added a team-high 86 rushing yards and defensively made several superlative plays. O’Connell and Hanson were named Peru’s Outstanding Offensive and Defensive players, respectively.

The Nighthawks — which at one point during the season had a two-week pause due to COVID-19 — finish the year 7-3 with a Section VII title and a regional win over Section X’s Massena.

“The resilience started there, and it was just all year,” Peru coach Ryon O’Connell said. “The kids really love each other. That’s why we made it to where we did because they play for each other.”

Peru scored first on its opening drive and took a 14-13 lead in the closing minute of the first half with Zach O’Connell capping a 59-yard drive with his second touchdown to Smith, an 8-yard pass on a roll-out to the right.

“That drive before halftime where we took the lead was just all kids’ heart, making plays for each other,” Ryon O’Connell said.

Ravena seized the lead back after forcing and recovering a fumble in the third quarter, going up 19-14 when Dominik Paljusaj took off down the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown. Paljusaj finished with 134 yards on five carries, part of the Indians’ 417-yard, six-touchdown rushing effort.

“They were really physical up front,” Ryon O’Connell said.

Peru’s defense stiffened on the following drive after the Indians drove down to the Nighthawks’ 9-yard line. Zachary Hunter picked up a sack on first down, and the drive ended when Zack Engstrom knocked away a fourth-down pass in the end zone.

But Peru ended up punting on its next drive, and Ravena took a 25-14 lead on a one-yard plunge by Ryan Schermerhorn early in the fourth quarter.

Zach O’Connell responded with an 87-yard kick return to cut the lead to 25-21.

“We’ve been down before and we just battle back, that’s what we do – we never give up,” Zach O’Connell said. “Everyone wants to battle, no one wants to give up.”

Peru got the ball back with six minutes left, but Ravena’s defensive pressure led to a Jack McFerran interception. On the next play, Deondre English took his only carry 40 yards to put the Indians up by 11 with 5 minutes left. Peru lost Smith to an injury on the play.

“You can always look back and see what you did wrong, but they came out and stopped us,” Ryon O’Connell said.

The Nighthawks got as far as Ravena’s 27-yard line but turned it over on downs. Broadhurst sealed the win, rushing 67 yards to Peru’s 10 and adding his third touchdown run on the next play.

“Work as hard as we did this year and we’ll be back here – I know we will,” Zach O’Connell said.

Ravena 39, Peru 21

Peru 7 7 0 7 – 21

Ravena 7 6 6 20 – 39

First quarter

P- Smith 1 yard pass from O’Connell (O’Connell kick), 6:35.

R- Broadhurst 9 run (McFerran kick), 4:03.

Second quarter

R- Broadhurst 8 run (pass fails), 6:02.

P- Smith 8 pass from O’Connell (O’Connell kick), 33.8.

Third quarter

R- Paljusaj 72 run (pass fails), 7:34.

Fourth quarter

R- R. Schermerhorn 1 run (run fails), 9:44.

P- O’Connell 87 kick return (O’Connell kick), 9:29.

R- English 40 run (McFerran kick), 5:23.

R- Broadhurst 10 run (McFerran kick), 1:19.

Individual statistics

Rushing

P- Hanson 15-86; O’Connell 7-16; Duprey 1-(-3). Totals: 23-99.

R- Broadhurst 27-241, 3 TD; Paljusaj 5-134, TD; R. Schermerhorn 4-11, TD; English1-40, TD; Misetich 2-(-9). Totals: 39-417, 6 TD.

Passing

P- O’Connell 21-37-1-193, 2 TD.

R- Misetich 6-9-0-95; Bermudez 0-1-0-0. Totals: 6-10-0-95.

Receiving

P- Ri. Hebert 8-65; Ro. Hebert 5-58; Smith 4-35, 2 TD; Duprey 2-18; Tyrell 1-17; Hanson 1-0. Totals: 21-193, 2 TD.

R- Bermudez 3-42; Margiasso 1-30; Southworth 1-11; Broadhurst 1-12. Totals: 6-95.

Interceptions

R- McFerran.

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