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SECTION IV FOOTBALL: NEWARK VALLEY CLOSES SEASON WITH CLASS D SEMIFINAL LOSS TO DELHI (2023-11-04)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
CONKLIN — It was a case of the haves and have nots as Newark Valley’s season came to a close with a 27-0 loss to state-ranked Delhi in the Section IV Class D semifinals at Susquehanna Valley Saturday.

The Bulldogs seemed to have all the breaks go their way while Lady Luck didn’t give NV a second glance.

“It's playoff football,” NV coach Ted Hardenstine said. “I think when you get to this point of the season when you’ve got a team like that playing, you have to play well.

“Some of the credit goes to Delhi for sure too, stuff that they forced. And, if you don't play well, anything you do that is a little mistake, it gets exposed this time of year.”

“This whole year we weren't able to be as consistent as we wanted to be as a football team in all facets of the game. And that shows it has kind of been the story of the year unfortunately for us. We haven't been able to be as crisp and consistent as you need to be to be successful.”

Newark Valley’s misfortunes started early as Delhi recovered an onside kick at midfield to start the game. Seven plays later, Adam Cook scored on a 3-yard run and Lucas Nealis split the uprights for a 7-0 lead less than 3 ½ minutes into the period.

Delhi’s second possession ended with Charles Haight’s 31 yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-5 tight end Angelo Krzyston and a missed PAT kick made it 13-0 with just over 1 ½ minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Bracchy highlighted the drive with a 44-yard gain on a double reverse.

When the Bulldogs took possession again following an unsuccessful fake punt attempt by the Cardinals early in the second quarter, Delhi started at its own 48. Four plays later Tanner Bracchy scored on a 28-yard run. Nealis booted the PAT to make it 20-0 with 9:28 remaining in the half.

Newark Valley’s start was somewhat opposite that of the 5th-ranked Bulldogs.

The Cardinals’ initial possession sputtered in Delhi territory. A false start penalty on third-and-6 from the 29 followed by a 10-yard sack forced an NV punt. The ball hit and bounced back up the field to the 17 instead of the possibility of pinning Delhi inside its own 10.

The next possession was the fake punt.

Following the Bulldogs’ third TD, the ensuing squib kick found its way to the NV 24. The Cardinals drove to the Delhi 33 with help from a 31-yard Dan Truesdail run, but on fourth-and-one, Bracchy bolted unabated into the backfield to tackle Truesdail for a 4-yard loss.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty followed by a pass interference call set the Bulldogs up at the NV 33, but Cook fumbled and Cooper Davis pounced on the pigskin at the 39, giving the Cardinals their first break of the day.

NV’s misfortune continued. On first-and-goal at the six, Kaiden Pado slipped and fell as he was about to take a handoff from Nate Hinckley and a Bulldog defender gathered in the loose rock.

Newark Valley took the first possession of the second half 38 yards to the Delhi 36 before sputtering.

Key tackles by Gabe Merrill and Seth Northrop forced the Bulldogs into a three-and-out and NV would get the ball back at its own 20 following a punt.

The Cardinals held the ball for 18 plays before turning the ball over on downs before turning the ball over on downs at the Delhi 11 in the final period.

Despite having a 72-yard TD run wiped out by a penalty, the Bulldogs managed to put together a 15-play drive culminating in Haight’s 15-yard TD throw to Bracchy. The PAT kick made it 27-0 with 3:36 left in the game.

NV’s Zach Cornell, who missed the previous three games due to injury, came in at quarterback for the final drive and completed three of seven pass attempts to get the Cardinals to the Bulldog 32 before the drive ended on a controversial non-call for pass interference.

Extending its winning streak to six games, Delhi (9-1) rolled up 317 yards, 220 of which came on via the run. Bracchy accounted for 120 of them, toting the rock just seven times. Haight was 5-for-8 passing for 97 yards with Krzyston grabbing four balls for 82 yards.

Hardenstine applauded the Bulldogs’ performance.

“Really good coaches over there,” he said. “They were able to take advantage a little bit on defense. Some of the coverage we were playing when they got that one touchdown, we were trying to be a little bit more aggressive in the run game.

“And then the kids made some plays too. And the kids, just one where a kid got off a block, a kid did get blocked, a kid broke a tackle … with a team like Delhi, they have a lot of good athletes off the ball and if you make a mistake, it can be a mistake that goes the whole way and they don't stop until they're in the end zone.

“We knew that the whole year. I think they're averaging somewhere in the mid-40s for points per game, so we know it's a challenge to stop because of that, and the kids made some plays for sure.”

Newark Valley, which finished the season with a 4-5 record, chalked up 269 yards offense which included 231 on the ground.

Truesdail was again a workhorse for the Cardinals, gaining 172 yards on 27 carries. Dylan Iversen added 38 more on 11 runs.

The Cardinals will miss their seniors, but have a solid group of younger players returning next year.

“A lot of good things to be excited about for the future,” Hardenstine said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. I hope that those guys stay hungry and want to work and won't be satisfied with just making the playoffs, but want to do something bigger.”

As for the seniors, “I love those guys,” Hardenstine said. “The guys that have been here a long time, it's always hard to see them go and you always wish you could send them out the best way.

“I just told them really the only way, unfortunately, it's always bittersweet unless you win at all. It's the only way that you're able to end or at some point you're walking off with a loss, unless you don't make the playoffs type of thing. That's never where you want to be. That's kind of how it goes a lot of times. It's always sad every single year, like I said, but I hope that we had some strong leadership from some of those seniors.

“The guys, there weren’t a lot of them, but the guys that we had really battled and a lot of them grew over their time here. That's the part that’s bigger than football is how you see those kids grow, as a man, not as a football player and build those relationships. You know that this will be the end of football, but you know that you'll still see those guys and be confident they'll be successful.”

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PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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