Jim Gage talks with players during Mustang Bowl XI.
The Patriots seemed to have the advantage well before Mustang Bowl XII was played. They had won the previous five out of six meetings. They had Jim Gage in the audience and they had an offensive juggernaut to create havoc for the Mustangs defense.
Ashlyn tries to escape the two-hand touch of Liam in Mustang Bowl XII.
Jim Gage, a two-time honorary captain for the Patriots, the only honorary captain to have that distinction, began the Patriot revival after losing the first four of five Mustang Bowls to the Mustangs when the classic battle began in 2004. Gage was honorary captain of the Patriots in Mustang Bowl VI and led them to their first of four straight victories to tie the overall series. The Mustangs evened the overall series with a win in MB X. Then Gage returned in Mustang Bowl XI as a substitute for Gladys Hutton, who was unable to be present as honorary captain for the Patriots, and he led the Patriots to a thrilling 25-24 victory which came down to the last play of the game. Thus giving the Pats the series advantage, once again.
Though he was not an honorary captain in MB XII, as the Morse School honored the students and staff of 1965, in honor of its 50th birthday, Gage was able to exert his influence as he made his impact as a flag bearer with the Saugerties Color Guard. The Color Guard splendidly represented the struggles of American patriots through the years while Morse student Sydney Henson sang a moving rendition of our National Anthem. Gage clearly gave an intangible edge to the Patriots on this spectacular October day at Grant D. Morse Elementary school.
Quinlan pulls another one down and races for the score.
The Patriots used this as a catalyst for an explosive first quarter where they scored 19 unanswered points behind the sizzling aerial attack featuring QB and coach Mitchell Hart tossing the ball up for wideout Jack Quinlan to haul down. It did not look good for the Mustangs.
However, the Mustangs would not be disheartened. Coach and MLB Ginger Defino kept her troops focused on the field rather than the scoreboard. The Mustangs roared back in the second quarter to score 13 points themselves while only allowing 6 for the Mustangs. Cornerback John Turk picked up a fumble and picked off a pass to lead to scores for the Mustangs. The halftime score was 25-13.
After an incredible halftime performance by the Mustang Bowl Cheer team, both teams’ defenses rallied to a scoreless quarter.
The Patriots ended the third quarter with the ball deep in their own territory and soon scored on an amazing 21-yard jitterbug run by fifth grader Gavin Ingrassia. Ingrassia scored in the second quarter on a similar run and made history when he hit pay dirt the second time. Ingrassia and his older brother Shane who played in MB IV and MB V are the only siblings to score two touchdowns in a single game. The elder Ingrassia, who played for the Mustangs in MB V, grabbed two TD passes and his little brother ran for two in MB XII. Mustang Bowl V represented the last time the Mustangs were able to demonstrate sustained dominance, as Gage would impart his influence in subsequent battles.
Mrs. McCaig exults in the Mustang Bowl action.
The Mustangs trailed by 19 points with 5 minutes remaining. Showing the same resolve they demonstrated all game, they marched down field and scored to make the score 33-20. As the clocked ticked away, the Mustangs brought heavy defensive pressure to the Patriot offense causing consecutive ground losses. On a third and long from deep inside Mustangs’ territory, Defino led a blitz and sacked QB Hart in the end zone for a safety making the score 32-22.
The Mustangs needed a quick score and a turnover to get them in position to win the game. However, the clock did not have as the ticks necessary to pull off magic. The game ended on a long completion from Mustangs QB Marciano Neglia to receiver Isaiah Snyder, but it was just too late for a last quarter miracle.
Jim Gage, standing with former Morse staff and students, joyfully surveyed the scene as the Patriots had prevailed again. Though he would be the first to congratulate all the players on another great competition, he is a Patriot to the core and he seems to have cast a spell on the Mustangs.