By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
It’s rare that anyone predicts against Cornwall’s football team, but that changed this week.
The media picked Newburgh over Cornwall. Cornwall running back T.J. Gayle said he heard the same prediction from many of his classmates and some Newburgh fans before Saturday’s showdown.
Gayle and his teammates helped prove the doubters wrong as host Cornwall upset Newburgh 31-28. A senior, Gayle reprised his role of star of the game, rushing for 301 yards and two touchdowns against the Goldbacks.
He has 928 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. Newburgh quarterback Terry Anderson rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown and connected with wide receiver Uh’Charion Hanson on two scores. Sophomore Sincere Tatum rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown for Newburgh.
The Goldbacks played without starting running back Jadon Munroe, who sat out with a hamstring injury.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to come out and win this game,” Gayle said. “We knew it would be a good game, but even a lot of Cornwall people didn’t think we would win. Newburgh was supposed to be unstoppable, but this showed we could go up against bigger teams. This is a huge look into the future for us. I think it shows what we can do as we move closer to the playoffs.”
Both prime time players entered Saturday’s showdown 3-0. Newburgh is the eighth-ranked Class AA team in the state and Cornwall is ranked seventh in Class A. The teams’ have combined to win 10 Section 9 championships in a row (Cornwall seven, Newburgh three).
Saturday’s game certainly lived up to the hype. Cornwall led 17-14 at halftime and was up by scores of 24-14 and 31-21 in the second half. However, Newburgh kept up the pressure, pulling to within 31-28 with under a minute to go when Anderson hit Hanson for a 10-yard score. The Goldbacks then attempted an onside kick, but Cornwall’s Ian Engenito recovered it, securing the win. Cornwall quarterback Kieran Kreider hit Shane O’Dea for a touchdown, Seth Goitia rushed for a touchdown and Chris DiMedio hit a 28-yard field goal for the Green Dragons.
“I have to be honest, I feel great about this game because it was a great test for our kids,” Connolly said. “It sets us up really well for the next five or six weeks. Newburgh is a great program and it didn’t bother me that we were the underdog. It was nice to come out and play with house money. We won and we came out healthy.”
Cornwall-Newburgh September 23, 2017 Photo credit: Nick Scott
Until Saturday, the teams had not played since October of 2010 when Cornwall defeated Newburgh 29-0. It was Newburgh coach Bill Bianco’s second year at Newburgh and Connolly was an assistant at Monroe-Woodbury at the time. The Goldbacks defeated Cornwall 46-34 in 2009.
Cornwall hosts Roosevelt on Thursday and Newburgh takes on visiting Warwick.
“Cornwall is a great team and made more plays than we did,” Bianco said. “When you play a good team like Cornwall, you can’t make mistakes, that is the reality. It was a great game and it was very competitive. They were just a little sharper today.”