MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – The Westlake High School football team tried its best to rally around one of its injured players Saturday, but it was not enough. The Wildcats lost an emotional game to Nanuet, 17-14, in Mount Pleasant.
Near the end of the fourth quarter, senior tight end and defensive back Jesse Tully suffered a gruesome ankle injury on a defensive stop.
Officials and coaches called for the ambulance immediately and the game was delayed for more than 10 minutes while medical personnel loaded Tully onto a stretcher.
The Wildcats, who were on defense and were down, 17-14, came out fired up and forced Nanuet to go three and out. Westlake got the ball back in excellent field position after a short punt, but quarterback Mike Ragusa threw an interception on the next play to effectively end the game.
The loss dropped Westlake to 2-3 on the season, while Nanuet improved to 3-2. The game had crucial Class B playoff implications for both sides, but Westlake head coach Rich Hennessy said the team cannot dwell on the loss.
“Like I told the guys, rest up, get healthy and Monday we start focusing on Croton,” Hennessy said.
Westlake had plenty of chances to take over the game but came up short each time. The Wildcats trailed, 17-7, at halftime and shut out the Golden Knights in the second half but could not muster enough offense to take the lead.
Ragusa threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter to cut the lead to three. Westlake got the ball several times in the fourth quarter but never scored again.
The Wildcats’ best chance came with less than five minutes left in the fourth. Nanuet was backed up inside its own 20 and faced a third and five, but Westlake jumped offside to give the Golden Knights an automatic first down.
Westlake could not get its running game going, as Nanuet dominated the line of scrimmage. The Golden Knights used their ground game, though, to wear out the Westlake defense as Nanuet’s offensive line opened up holes throughout the day.
“They did what they needed to do,” Hennessy said. “They just got into a power formation and they pushed us around. They did a great job today.”
The Wildcats did all they could to rally and earn the win, particularly after Tully’s injury. Hennessy did not know, nor did he want to speculate, on the severity of the injury, but he had nothing but praise for his player after the game.
“The kid’s a warrior,” Hennessy said. “His first focus, even when he was injured, was the team. I mean, the kid’s got unbelievable heart and I just wish the best for him.”