Alvirne falls to unbeaten Plymouth in Division II football finals

Staff photo by HETOR LONGO Alvirne linebacker Kyle Gora finishes off this big hit on Plymouth's Patrick Malm.

DURHAM – Even on the ropes, trailing Alvirne 18-15 at halftime, Plymouth High School acted like the Division II state championship was its destiny, a foregone conclusion if you will, more than precariously hanging in the balance.

The Bobcats lived up to the hype, completing the undefeated (12-0) season with a spotless second half to beat the upset-minded Broncos, 29-18.

Frustrated in the second half, Alvirne finishes its year of firsts, as in earning the first two postseason wins in program history, with a 9-3 mark.

Offensively, it was a dream first half for Broncos’ QB Kyle Gora and the Alvirne offense, which scored TDs on each of its first three possessions.

Gora, the sensational sophomore, hit the trifecta, throwing for the first touchdown, running for the second and then hauling in a 6-yard toss from wide receiver Jack Regan for the third.

All three were so clutching, coming on fourth-down plays.

“He’s been the leader of all this. He’s the one leading the way,” said Broncos’ coach Tarek Rothe of his QB. “He’s an amazing young man with all kinds of fight in him.”

About the lone thing that went wrong were the point-after tries, all Alvirne runs, all denied within inches.

“We decided at the beginning of the year that we would be aggressive going for two as much as we could,” said Rothe. “Tonight it just didn’t go our way, although I thought we got a few of those. Apparently, we didn’t.”

Still, the Broncos led 18-15 into intermission.

“At the half, I felt like we had a really, really good chance,” said Rothe.

But Plymouth cranked it up after the break, and Alvirne, for seemingly the first time all year, couldn’t match it.

“We made mistakes tonight, that we just couldn’t recover from,” said Rothe. “It was a magical ride. We just ran out of magic today.”

Plymouth, gunning for its 27th straight win, pounced.

A blocked punt on Alvirne’s first possession set up the go-ahead Bobcats’ score.

Owen Brickley’s 7-yard TD made it 22-18 early in the third.

“We gave them a short field (at the Alvirne 8), and that’s a machine over there,” said Rothe. “You can’t do that in a game like this. It was a break we couldn’t afford.”

From there, it was all about Alvirne frustration.

First there was a sea of yellow. In a game where Plymouth was flagged five times all night for a mere 18 yards, Alvirne was hit with 10 penalties for 108 yards, 8 for 102 in the second half alone.

Then there was the missed execution.

Twice, the Broncos moved into Plymouth territory and twice they ran out of downs, the second at the Bobcats’ 19.

The Bobcats chewed up eight of the final 10 minutes on the clock, marching 81 yards on 16 plays. Cody Bannon put it away with a 3-yard TD plunge.

“We just didn’t get the ball to bounce our way a couple times. We just fell short,” said Rothe. “We were like an inch away so many times. I’m proud of our kids. They fought hard right to the very end.”

Statistically speaking, Jamie Bertrand had a huge night, running four times for 118 yards and adding eight catches for 75 more. Jack Regan caught six passes for 90 yards on a night where Gora was 15 of 32 for 167 yards.

Owen Brickley and Patrick Malm did the bulk of the damage for Plymouth, the duo combining for 279 yards on 54 carries.