By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Insider Staff
GOSHEN — James I. O’Neill running back and backup quarterback Luke Kilner broke off a 47-yard touchdown run in a 23-3 win over Burke Catholic. After a Heisman-like stiff arm to a defender, he felt nothing but the wind behind him.
It was the first of three unanswered scores in the second half for the Raiders, which broke a 3-3 halftime tie.
“The play was supposed to be an outside run but I saw a lane on the inside,” said Kilner, who missed the first part of the season with a broken hand. “I had one guy to beat, stiff-armed him, and I was able to bring it home and get the momentum going for the team.”
With the win, O’Neill (6-2, 3-0 Class B) clinched the Division II regular-season title. The Raiders will take on Port Jervis in the Class B semifinals at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Faller Field in Middletown. Burke Catholic will take on rival Marlboro, the Division I champion, at 3 p.m. at Dietz Stadium in the other semifinal.
Following Kilner’s long touchdown run, O’Neill put together an eight-play, 51-yard drive capped by a Hector Borgos 3-yard rushing touchdown. Two minutes later, Philip West returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown for the final score of the game.
“We know what we’re getting from Marlboro, they’re a very talented team.” Burke Catholic coach Aaron Hasbrouck said. “We’re going to do our best to have a great week at practice and give them hell next Saturday.”
Three weeks ago, Marlboro beat Burke Catholic 26-14.
“The first time we played, I thought our defense was pretty good, they beat us with some play-action passes over the middle,” Hasbrouck said. “The field was in bad shape then, so it will be exciting to see how the game is played on turf this time around.”
O’Neill’s win gives them confidence heading into the playoffs next weekend, but they won’t take any opponent lightly.
“Two weeks ago, we lost by single digits to a tough Dobbs Ferry team,” Kilner said. “We bounced back with a big win over Ellenville and we’re using that loss as motivation going forward. We’re excited for this opportunity. We won’t underestimate anybody and hopefully we play to our potential every game and see what happens from there.”