Warriors survive Holland Patent, move to sectional finals

If the Westhill football team wanted to script how it could win the 2008 Section III Class B championship, it likely would resemble the real way it turned out.

When the Warriors take on Oneida Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Carrier Dome, it will look to avenge a painful 50-7 defeat to the Indians on Sept. 12, which took place a week before quarterback Mike DeCarr returned from his shoulder injury.

With DeCarr on the field, the Warriors have won six in a row, none as difficult as last Saturday's Class B semifinal at Nottingham High School, where it needed a bit of trickery and a lot of toughness to beat Holland Patent 21-14.

Going in, Westhill did not find its task to be a big secret, especially on defense. HP posted a strong running game, led by tailback Dan Fruscella, who had gained 302 yards a week earlier in a first-round win over Holland Patent.

Throughout the first half, the Warriors were up to that challenge, shutting down Fruscella and allowing the offense to go through its early jitters without any serious price.

It was still 0-0 when, in the second quarter, Westhill began to find its rhythm. The tough running of Sam Penizotto (who had 147 yards on the afternoon) helped lead to his own one-yard touchdown plunge that put the Warriors ahead 7-0.

Another drive followed, reaching the Golden Knights' 10-yad line before DeCarr found his favorite receiver, Dan Ross, in the end zone to double the margin to 14-0, a nice situation as the teams went to the break.

HP did not panic, though, and in the third quarter began to rally despite Fruscella's struggles with the running game (he had just 50 yards all afternoon).

It was the Golden Knights' other back, Steven Falk, who converted on a six-yard run to make it 14-6. With Westhill sputtering, HP got the ball again, and Fruscella's one-yard TD plunge, plus a two-point conversion, tied it 14-14.

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