By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Slate Hill — Warwick quarterback Joey Miller was about to put the ball in Kyle Rooney’s hands when he saw Minisink Valley defensive lineman Anton Juncaj closing in on the running back with a full head of steam.
On the fly, Miller pulled the ball back, kept it and ran for glory. Miller’s 11-yard touchdown run on a third-and-short play gave Warwick a dramatic 23-17 Section 9 Class A Division I win in triple overtime on Friday night.
“It was going to be a give to Kyle, but I saw (Juncaj) coming for him. I pulled the ball and we got a win,” Miller said. “It was by far the most amazing game that I have ever played in, especially when you consider it was against one of our rivals. I love these guys and we are super excited about this. I’m happy that we came out with the win.”
Miller’s 52-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter tied the game at 14 apiece. Warwick (4-1, 2-1 Class A) took a 17-14 lead in the second overtime on a 30-yard field goal by Matt Meade, who missed a 43-yarder in the first overtime session. However, Minisink Valley kicker Payton Briecke tied the game with a 33-yard field goal that richocheted off the crossbar and through the uprights.
Warwick’s defense held Minisink Valley on a fourth-and-14 from Warwick’s 24-yard line, setting the stage for Miller’s magic.
“That was all grit right there,” said Rooney, who rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown. “Our team pulled it out and I can’t believe it. Three overtimes is crazy and it feels great to get back on the winning track.”
Matt Cuccio scored on a 6-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening drive for Minisink Valley (4-1, 1-1 Class A) and quarterback Ryan Johanson hit John Mack for a 22-yard touchdown with 44.8 seconds left in the first half. Minisink Valley, which had four turnovers against Warwick, plays Port Jervis in a non-league game next week.
After back-to-back games against Cornwall and Minisink Valley, Warwick’s next showdown comes against rival Goshen in the Spirit Trophy game next week.
Warwick has taken 13 in a row from Goshen and 20 of 21, dating back to 1996. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 55-46-4. Warwick vs. Goshen is the second-oldest continuing rivalry in the state behind Rome Free Academy and Utica Proctor, which began playing in 1891.
“We have to come out as a whole team against Goshen,” Miller said. “I’ve seen them and they are a good team. But if we play like we did tonight, we will come out with a win.”