By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Goshen — Connor Perez and his Warwick teammates watched as a 20-point halftime lead turned into a one-point deficit against Goshen during a frenetic four-minute span on Saturday.
The Wildcats were reeling and in shock, but they found a way to hold onto the Spirit Trophy for another year. First-year quarterback Jared Senius scored on a 1-yard run with 1:38 remaining as Warwick escaped Goshen with a 28-21 in one of the greatest games in the storied history of the rivalry.
Senius completed 16-of-24 passes for 228 yards, connecting with Perez on three touchdowns in the first half.
“I have to Goshen credit because they played extremely well, they played hard the entire game,” said Perez, who finished with nine receptions for 182 yards. “They came back, but we could have folded when it got tough. I feel good because that shows the type of team that we have. We didn’t pack it in when we were down. We knew we needed a score and that’s exactly what we did.”
With the win, Warwick has now 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.
Warwick (2-0) defeated Goshen 33-7 last year and had outscored the Gladiators 186-40 over the last five Spirit Trophy games. The latest edition of the showdown seemed headed for another blowout. The Wildcats led Goshen 20-0 at halftime on touchdown passes of 11, 21 and 35 yards from Senius to Perez.
Meanwhile, the Gladiators’ offense stalled in the first half. However, some great Goshen defense turned into offense during an exciting 4:05 to start the third quarter. Warwick lost fumbles on each of its first three drives and Goshen (0-2) scored on each one.
A 15-yard run by Max Suarez put Goshen on the scoreboard and just 20 seconds later sophomore quarterback Matt Giordano hit Jake Kunis for a 34-yard touchdown. The Gladiators took a 21-20 lead on an 8-yard pass from Giordano to Suarez with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
“We just tried to stay focused and keep the intensity when all of that was happening,” Senius said. “Goshen played fantastic. They were down 20-0 at halftime and could have easily given up. They came back and they scared of us, but we stayed together and pulled it out.”
Warwick’s game-winning drive started at its own 36-yard line with 3:32 remaining. Key plays on the drive were a 25-yard pass from Senius to Sean English and a 24-yard run by Kyle Rooney to Goshen’s 1-yard line. Senius hit Anthony McGee for a two-point conversion to make it 28-21. Goshen had one last desperation attempt to tie the game, but Giordano’s heave from Warwick’s 35-yard line was intercepted by English just short of the end zone as time expired.
“It was a great feeling to catch that ball,” English said. “Throughout the game I was thinking that I have to get an interception. It was just a great feeling. We stuck it to them in the first half, let them up in the third quarter, but kept our heads in the game and won it.”