Nov. 20—MECHANICVILLE — Heading into halftime, Peru found itself down only seven points in its Class B regional final game against Ravena, Saturday.
Then the second half began. Ravena would score on four of its first five possessions to start the second frame to blow the doors off, and roar to a 42-7 victory.
"I was really happy with the way we played in the first half," Peru head coach Ryon O'Connell said. "I thought we did a really nice job. Our keys were really good. We stopped their run game.
"When you come to Section II, they're a little bit faster, a little bit bigger, and they have a great coaching staff at Ravena. They made some halftime adjustments and they came out a little bit more fired up than I thought they did in the first half. I think they got a little bit of energy."
Unlike Ravena, Peru had struggles in the second half to get things moving. All-in-all, their drives consisted of three punts, one lost fumble and an interception.
It's one thing to always wonder if the outcome would've been different if the first half ended differently.
After Landen Duprey caught a touchdown pass from Ethan Breen with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter, the score was cut to, 14-7.
The Nighthawks forced a three and out and moved the ball to the Indian nine-yard line.
With :20 seconds to go in the half, O'Connell called a timeout to set up the offense. After Zach Engstrom was stuffed on the ensuing run play, Breen hurried his team back to the line and spiked the ball.
Unfortunately, the spike was on fourth down and Peru came away empty handed. It would be the closest they got to scoring for the remainder of the game.
One feather in the cap for the Nighthawks was their ability to stop the strong running game of Ravena.
Ravena averaged 225 yards a game, but were limited to only 90 yards on the ground, Saturday.
"I mean, when you go into a state playoff game, your goal is to stop just one thing and hopefully the second thing doesn't hurt us," O'Connell said. "They beat us on the pass tonight.
"We had to stop the run game. and I thought we did that in the first half."
As the game began to wind down, O'Connell slowly pulled his seniors off the field one last time. As each came off, he took a minute to console, support and reminisce with them."
"Football's a hard sport," O'Connell said. "When you're around these kids for three years as sophomores and then you grow as a family and it's hard to say goodbye.
"It's like, they do everything you asked for three years. and then it comes to an end but they did a great job carrying our tradition. That we ask them to do everything we do in practice every day. It's just heart wrenching to be done."
He said that now it's the juniors time to step up and lead and continue the work Peru has done in recent years to get back to the top.
The Nighthawks finished the 2023 campaign 8-2, and sport a 25-6 record over the last three years.
"This team means a lot," O'Connell said. "I think a lot of people, maybe in the beginning, didn't think that this group of young men could come through and win Class B. I think they proved a lot of people wrong.
"The credit goes to them that they believed in each other. Our goal is always to win and play as many games as we can. I think they did this year. The seniors did everything we asked."
Ravena 42, Peru 7
PCS 0 7 0 0 — 7
RCS 7 7 21 7 — 42
R- Algozzine 34 pass from Potter (McFerran kick), 6:56.
R- Potter 1 run (McFerran kick), 8:30.
P- Duprey 8 pass from Breen (Garrow kick), 3:08.
R- Paljusaj 6 run (McFerran kick), 9:49.
R- Green 13 run (McFerran kick), 4:03.
R- Green 11 run (McFerran kick), 2:54.
R- McFerran 45 pass from Potter (McFerran kick), 6:19.
P- Engstrom 8-17; Breen 5-(-33); Bridges 6-22; Team 1-(-1); Wilkins 1-(-2). Totals: 21-3.
R- Potter 6-(-26), TD; Paljusaj 13-29, TD; Green 11-44, 2TD; Carkner 2-37; Team 3-(-7); Foye 4-13. Totals: 39-90, 4TD.
P- Breen 14-25-1-135, TD; Team 0-1-0-0. Totals: 14-26-1-135, TD.
R- Potter 9-14-0-192, 2TD.
P- Duprey 5-57, TD; Daniels 3-24; Timmons 1-10; Engstrom 1-3; Taylor 4-41.
R- Algozzine 3-84, TD; McFerran 5-91, TD; Green 1-17.