Nov 03, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Throughout the 2008 season, as the Bishop Ludden football team built its win streak to 20 games in defense of its state Class C championship, it had pointed toward a new face in the Class C ranks with a storied history.
Cazenovia, who had won each of the last two Section III Class B titles, had been moved down due to enrollment changes, and the expectation was that, somewhere along the line, the Gaelic Knights would have to get through the Lakers if it wanted more glory.
Sure enough, that post-season collision took place in last Friday night’s Class C semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium. And as it turned out, not even Cazenovia could slow Ludden’s relentless push toward a repeat.
Combining its knack for big plays with a strong defensive effort, the Gaelic Knights beat the Lakers, 26-14, for its 21st victory in a row, earning a trip to the Carrier Dome to face fellow unbeaten Westmoreland in this Saturday’s Class C final.
Everyone came into this game expecting a classic duel between Cazenovia’s punishing defense and Ludden’s high-octane offense. They would get their wish right away.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Gaelic Knights began on its own 22-yard line and took it right to the Lakers, going 78 yards in 10 plays.
While Cazenovia expected Omar Osbourne to be a running threat, they did not expect him to cause damage a receiver — but he did so here, getting wide open so that John Rooney could throw it to him on a 43-yard touchdown play that put Ludden ahead 7-0.
At first, the Gaelic Knights’ defense shut down whatever Cazenovia tried to establish on the ground. But in the second quarter the Lakers went through the air and succeeded, Carter Franz hitting Seth Goldacker on a 59-yard TD pass to tie it, 7-7.
That didn’t faze Ludden, though, as it needed just nine plays to go 58 yards and go back in front when Rooney, from the Lakers’ 12, hit tight end Chris Davis in the end zone. Even with a missed extra point, the Gaelic Knights were up 13-7 at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, Cazenovia began a long march deep into Ludden territory, moving to the Gaelic Knights’ 13, poised to tie the game or even go in front.
Then came the pivotal play, as Franz, attempting to go back to pass, fumbled — and Ludden’s Steve Barrett fell on the ball, a huge turnover.
The Gaelic Knights then spent the rest of the third quarter on a 15-play, 86-yard march that saw Rooney gain yardage on the ground, taking full advantage of the Lakers’ fixation on Osbourne. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Rooney, from Cazenovia’s 14, broke tackles and battled his way to the end zone for the TD, making it 20-7.
Devin White then added some huge points by taking off on a 63-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter, part of an effort where he had 136 yards to complement Osbourne’s total of 94 yards. Cazenovia would get a late touchdown and recover an onside kick, but Rooney’s late interception ended the drama.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., Ludden and Westmoreland meet for the Class C crown. The Bulldogs, like the Gaelic Knights, are 9-0, and have romped through both of its playoff opponents, bashing Cato-Meridian 42-6 and Herkimer 37-0.
Justin Becker is Westmoreland’s catalyst, a hard-charging back with seven touchdowns in two playoff games. The Gaelic Knights must find a way to contain Becker and make big plays if it wants a second consecutive sectional championship.