KINGSTON, N.Y. – The Tuckahoe High School football team can take its orange pants to Syracuse after a victory Friday over upstate rival Rensselaer.
Running back Nick Reisman scored his second rushing touchdown of the game with 3:37 left to lift the Tigers to a 14-12 win and punch Tuckahoe’s ticket to the Carrier Dome for the Class D state finals.
“It’s great. I can’t be anymore satisfied than this,” said Reisman, who earned offensive MVP honors. “My coaches are doing a great job and my whole team, they’re just working their butts off and I love it.”
Tuckahoe will play for a state championship Friday at noon for the second time in three seasons after the win at Dietz Stadium in Kingston on Friday.
The Tigers quickly gave up the lead when Tyler Stasack ran back the opening kickoff 72 yards to give Rensselaer a 6-0 lead. The Rams held that lead until Tuckahoe got on the board when Nick Reisman punched in a 6-yard touchdown run with :51 left in the third quarter.
The run capped off a 10-play, 84-yard drive in which the Tigers accumulated more offense than they had in the entire game up to that point. Tuckahoe mustered just 65 yards of total offense in the first two quarters on more than 20 plays.
The Rams answered back with a 15-play, 69-yard drive. It lasted more than seven minutes and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Seth Butler with 5:13 left in the game. Reisman ran back the kickoff to the Rams’ 42-yard line to set up his eventual game-winning touchdown run.
But with 3:37 left, the Tigers knew they had to stop the Rams.
“Offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” Reisman said. “We know that. We preach that every day, and we just knew we had to get to it and hold them. ... We all believed in ourselves, believed in each other. So we got it done.”
Tuckahoe’s defense kept the team in the game while the offense left plenty to be desired through the better part of the first three quarters. But the team was not frustrated in the locker room at halftime, quarterback Shyheim Nixon said.
“We just had to keep our heads. We knew it was still a game. They really didn’t do anything on offense. We stopped them every time,” Nixon said. “They just had that kick return. We knew we had to keep our heads and just keep playing. A lot of game to play.”
Rensselaer quarterback Steven Harwood’s fourth-down pass with less than two minutes remaining was incomplete. The Tigers took over on downs, and Reisman ran twice for a first down to effectively end the game.
The Tigers won state championships in 2006 and 2010. They will try to add to that collection with another trip to Syracuse.
“It’s amazing, man,” Nixon said. “I can’t wait. We’re just trying to play in the Dome and just take it back to Tuckahoe.”