Alvirne tops Pelham for first Division II win

PELHAM – Alvirne coach Tarek Rothe likes to lean on quad-captain Alex Giuffrida early and often. The junior running back is the Broncos’ finisher.

Friday night, Giuffrida did just that, carrying the ball 27 times for 162 yards – including eight of the final 13 Alvirne plays – to secure a 14-6 victory in the Broncos’ Division II season opener over Pelham.

“He’s a workhorse,” Rothe said of Giuffrida’s effort. “He’s an absolute workhorse. He played on both sides of the field. He and (Kyle Gora) don’t come off the field. Their conditioning is great. Their effort is fantastic.

“I can count on him to finish the game. That’s why he’s there at the end.”

While Giuffrida secured the win, Gora utilized the advantage of his tall receivers to grab the lead with two third quarter strikes.

It appeared the Broncos would grab a lead prior to the half, but Pelham’s defense came up big in the closing minutes of the second quarter with a goal-line stand on Giuffrida and Gora inside the 7 yard line – the former carrying the ball the first three downs for gains of 1 and 4 yards before losing 1 on third down; the latter keeping the ball on fourth down for a loss of 1.

The scoreless tie lingered into the third quarter, finally snapped on a Gora to senior Jack Regan pass from 12 yards out with 3:48 to play in the frame. James Bertrand added the point after kick for a 7-0 lead.

A three-and-out for Pelham led to a blocked punt, courtesy of quad-captain Thomas Keegan, setting the stage for another Gora end zone hookup. This time it was Kyle Boucher laying out and hauling in a 28-yard feed just inside the right side boundary of the end zone. Another Bertrand kick made it 14-0.

“Well, they finished it,” Rothe said. “We were able to fight. Despite that it was ugly, the effort never ceased. They kept playing hard every play. They made play after play. Defensively, they played outstanding.”

The Broncos held the Pythons scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter. Replacement quarterback Ian Hoey found Colby Travis at the front of the end zone from 12 yards out to make things interesting, but a botched point after snap left the Broncos ahead 14-6 with 7:15 to play.

A Morgan Williams interception of Hoey on the Pythons next possession, with 2:36 to play, helped seal the deal for Alvirne. Adam Tice added the exclamation point with a sack of Hoey on the Pythons final possession with 20 seconds left to play.