The energy for both Fox Lane and John Jay was palpable Saturday at the Foxes' homecoming. On one side a sea of red could be seen, as excited Fox Lane students decked out and came to the bleachers. On the other side of the field sat their neighborly rivals with black and purple.
The Indians prevailed over the Foxes, however, winning 44-28 and keeping the upper hand for much of the game.
John Jay had an edge in offense and defense. Talking to reporters afterward, Fox Lane Coach Steve Quinn said he “felt in general we were defending them.”
Quinn also felt that offensively things were frustrating.
John Jay Coach Jimmy Clark attributed the Indians' defense to being a key part of the victory.
“What was nice is we played some good defense today," he said, noting that defense has been an area the team struggled with.
The matchup was one that the Indians players looked forward to, Clark explained. Students from each high school go back as childhood teammates in youth sports.
“It adds a little more to the rivalry," Clark said.
Quinn was glad to see the heavy homecoming turnout.
“It's great. I wish we had this turnout every week," he told reporters.
The game opened with a bang for the Foxes, who got a touchdown from Chris Johnson beginning in the 1st quarter to bring the score to 6-0. The Indians came onto the board, with about 1:30 left in the first quarter, and took the lead, 7-6, with a successful extra-point kick.
Both sides got points in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Jack Lambert extended John Jay's lead with a touchdown, with about 8:02 left; it came following a drive that included a 19-yard run on his part, and the score became 14-6 with a kick. Fox Lane's Chris Manjuck, a senior running back, scored a touchdown with about 4:35 left, narrowing the gap to 14-12. However, the Indians quickly bounced back with another touchdown with about 3:17 remaining. The score at the half was 20-14 for John Jay.
The third-quarter momentum was overwhelmingly for John Jay, as a drive following a punt return brought them within a stone's throw from the Foxes' end zone. Although Fox Lane held the Indians to a field goal - the score became 23-14 - Quinn told reporters that the return was a problem.
“That punt return put us deep in a hole," he said.
The Indians got another big break around the 7:00 mark in the third quarter, when senior wide receiver Joe Kells got an interception, which started a drive that led to another touchdown, making the score 30-12 with a kick. Kells also caught one of the Indians' touhdowns, Clark noted. John Jay got one more touchdown before the quarter ended with the score at 37-12.
The Foxes would not roll over, however, and continued to put up a fierce resistence. Senior running back Joseph Nickerson scored a touchdown with roughly 11:30 to go; a 2-point conversion for the Foxes made the score 37-20.
The Indians widened their lead again, with 44-20 including the kick, following a touchdown from senior running back Brandon Lee with less than 3:50 remaining in the game. The Foxes managed to get another touchdown and 2-point conversion to narrow the gap to 44-28, but it came too late.
The game was a milestone for the Indians, as Lambert, according to Clark, broke the school's record for most touchdowns in a single season. Lambert, who scored several of the Indians' touchdown, passed the old record of 23, he explained.