The Hackley Hornets visited the Fieldston Eagles last Saturday in what was a fueled gridiron matchup. The stakes were high as the game would decide who would be crowned the 2017 Metropolitan Independent Football League champions.
But Fieldston fell short in heartbreaking fashion, losing 38-24 in a game that was much closer than the final score portrayed.
“It’s a hard one,” Fieldston’s Alexander Thorpe said. “Watching guys celebrate on your field for the championship, you never want to see that happen. We fought hard, just not hard enough.”
Thorpe put together an impressive performance on the offensive side of the ball, as he received a plethora of snaps out of the wildcat formation.
“I feel great” running the wildcat, Thorpe said, adding that it’s nice to play alongside running back Josh Godosky. “He takes some attention away from me.”
Thorpe punched in a 50-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat, dashing up the middle just before halftime to knot the game at 14. Godosky set a punishing lead block to assist the score.
The second half started with a rushing touchdown and a converted two-point try by Hackley quarterback Javon Coleman, who seemingly couldn’t be stopped on his carries throughout the game. His touchdown gave Hackley a 22-14 advantage.
Fieldston then added a 32-yard field goal by Thorpe to pull within 22-17.
The third quarter came to a close with Fieldston set up near Hackley’s goal line. But at the start of the fourth quarter, the drive came to a disappointing end when the Eagles failed to find the end zone after four carries inside the 5-yard line. Hackley took advantage of its defensive stand when Coleman scored another touchdown and two-point conversion with three minutes left in the game to give the Hornets a 30-17 cushion.
Fieldston showed zero signs of giving up, however, as quarterback Jesse Cooper-Leary quickly fired a 60-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pierce O’Hagan to pull the Eagles within six.
“I saw Pierce one-on-one against a linebacker, he had a go-route, and I just put it up to him and he ran under it,” Cooper-Leary said. “That was pretty much the gameplan for this week. We knew that they were going to blitz a lot, that’s what they did, and we were able to take advantage of that a couple of times.”
Fieldston head coach Gus Ornstein was hoping momentum would swing back the Eagles’ way after the score.
“We scored a quick touchdown and we were right back in the game,” Ornstein said. “With 1:50 left, we almost got the onside kick, and we were trying to just keep competing.”
Fieldston needed a stop and it needed it badly. With just over a minute on the scoreboard and two quick defensive stops, it was Hackley’s third play of the possession that proved most costly to Fieldston. Coleman tossed a sweep play to running back William Waterhouse, who found the sideline and open turf for a 60-yard touchdown run that proved the game winner.
Coleman then converted yet another two point try to cement the victory.
“I felt really good out there today,” Coleman said. “I felt confident behind our offensive line. They’re a great group of guys, all returning from last year. They really do their job. We had a team that battled adversity. We weren’t undefeated this year, but even with a rough start, we knew that we could do it and we got it done.”
The Fieldston sideline, understandably, had different feelings about the game’s outcome.
“It’s tough,” Ornstein said. “We had a great year, and it came down to a game like this. I thought we competed. We just made too many mistakes.”
For Godosky, as a senior, the loss was especially bruising.
“Words don’t really describe what we’re feeling right now,” Godosky said. “We have another game coming up, so we kind of have to turn our heads quickly. I just hope the guys who are going to have another chance at this next year remember what this feels like.”
For guys like Cooper-Leary and Thorpe, who will have one more try at the title next season, the loss wasn’t any easier.
“I’s a hard one to swallow,” Cooper-Leary said. “It’s going to be a rough weekend, but we have one more so we have to go back, look at the film and see what we can do better to go out and win one next week.”
“We have to let that loss motivate us,” he said. “We play our rivals (Riverdale) next week. It’s not a league game, but it means something for the rivalry and it would be great to end on a good note.”