MAHOPAC. N.Y. -- Rye Neck High School won its first Section 1 Class C football title Saturday with a 21-7 victory over defending champion Woodlands at Mahopac High School.
The unbeaten Panthers (9-0), nicknamed the "Black Hats" this season (in reference to the color of their helmets), advance to the state regional playoffs with a bye next week and will represent Section 1 against the Section 9 champion in the state quarterfinals at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Rye Neck set the tone for the contest by recovering an on-side kick off the opening kickoff. On the ensuing drive, Tom Pipolo opened the scoring with a 32-yard scoring pass to Matt Garcia. The Rye Neck defense took over from there, blanking the Falcons' offense early for a 7-0 halftime lead.
The Rye Neck defense, which had five shutouts over nine games this season, allowed Woodlands star running back Tyrone Barber 170 yards and one score, but stuffed the high-scoring Falcons offense for most of the game.
Barber, who fell just short of 2,000 rushing yards for the season, scored late in the third quarter to cap an 84-yard drive by the Falcons (6-3) to pull within 14-7.
Rye Neck's Dom Brescia ran in from 25 yards out to give the Black Hats a 14-0 lead early in the second half and Pedro Cueto scored from a yard out to make the score 21-7 midway through he fourth quarter.
Woodlands beat Rye Neck 35-0 last year in the sectional final.