By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Middletown — Running back Jadon Munroe’s impressive career had just ended and now he implored Newburgh’s underclassman to make the graduating seniors proud next year.
The Goldbacks’ Saturday night wasn’t supposed to end like this. Newburgh seemed primed to upset Troy in the Class AA state semifinals at Faller Field and punch its ticket to the championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse for the third time in seven years.
However, Troy, scored with 1:53 remaining on an 11-yard run by Dev Holmes off a reverse to escape with a 20-13 win. Newburgh, the four-time defending Section 9 champions, ends the season 8-3.
“The whole team has to keep their heads up,” said Munroe, who finished with 97 rushing yards, which included a 64-yard score in the first quarter. “All of the juniors and underclassmen need to make sure that they come out and play with a chip on their shoulder next year thinking of this game. It just didn’t go our way.”
Troy, the defending Class AA state champion and top-ranked team in the state, moves to 12-0. The Flying Horses have lost just one game over the last three years, but Newburgh almost ended their repeat bid. Newburgh took a 13-12 lead with 5:13 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Giani Hill, which culminated an 11-play drive that ate 6:40 off the clock.
The Goldbacks inched closer to the upset when Uh’Charion Hanson intercepted a pass by Troy quarterback Joe Casale with 6:46 left at Newburgh’s 24-yard line. However, the Goldbacks went three-and-out on the ensuing drive. A 20-yard punt return by Troy’s Joey Ward, one of its stars, gave the Flying Horses the ball at Newburgh’s 45-yard line with 5:34 remaining.
On the eighth play of the drive, Casale handed the ball off to Ward, who gave it to Holmes on the reverse. Holmes went around the left side to make it 18-13 and Troy converted the 2-point conversion. Newburgh had a chance to comeback, but lost a fumble on the first play of its next drive with 1:43 left.
“We played a great team with great players,” Newburgh coach Bill Bianco said. “I thought we played pretty well on both sides of the ball, but they made a few more plays than we did. That was the difference.”