Oct 21, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A fumble one moment, a long pass play on the other — such are the things on which a football season can turn.
Fayetteville-Manlius had put itself in good position to take the lead in last Saturday night’s game against Liverpool at Solvay’s Earl Hadley Stadium, a game the Hornets had to win in order to make the Section III Class AA playoffs.
But that fumble-long pass sequence, done in a span of two minutes, ignited a run of 35 unanswered points by the Warriors that proved decisive as Liverpool ultimately prevailed 43-30, sending F-M to the crossover realm.
As both teams came to “The Pit”, they did so with varying degrees of importance attached to the game. Cicero-North Syracuse’s 27-7 loss to West Genesee the night before had clinched for Liverpool a playoff berth. All that was at stake was to see if it would visit Baldwinsville or Henninger in the opening round.
For F-M, it was more consequential. Once 0-4 after a brutal opening schedule against opponents that went a combined 23-5 in the regular season, the Hornets had stunned West Genesee and rolled past Utica Proctor to give itself a chance at the playoffs.
Liverpool spent the entire first quarter in F-M territory, three times starting drives inside the 50-yard line with a chance to quickly put it away.
Yet all it managed was one touchdown, on a 32-yard slant pass from Tyler Kamide to Justin Albro, with Jesse Gates catching a two-point pass from Kamide after an extra-point snap got botched.
Somehow F-M weathered all this and, early in the second quarter, drew even. Matt Fallico’s 28-yard run set up a fourth down at the Warriors’ 11 where T.J. Earley rolled out, threw a short pass to Matt Taylor, and watched Taylor bowl over two defenders to find the end zone. Taylor also ran in for two points to tie it, 8-8.
The game turned a few minutes later, after Greg Bell fumbled near midfield and F-M’s Jim Barger recovered. Earley quickly moved the Hornets inside the Warriors’ 10-yard line and were ready to take the lead.
But on a pass play, Mike O’Neil fumbled at the three-yard line, and Liverpool’s Brian Wilbur fell on it. A few moments later, F-M found out just how costly that turnover would be.
Working from his own 15, Kamide used a play-action fake and threw deep. Corey Bundrage somehow found his way past two F-m defensive backs, caught the ball in mid-stride, and took it the rest of the way, 85 yards to the other end zone to give Liverpool a 15-8 lead.
And that was just the start. Following an F-M fake punt that got stopped, the Warriors used the short field to make it 22-8, Kamide throwing to Gates in the end zone from 12 yards out 29 seconds before halftime.
Then Bell took over. Atoning for some early troubles holding the ball, Bell accounted for 83 of the 87 yards on a long, methodical march that ate up the first five minutes of the third quarter. Bell went the final 24 yards for the touchdown. Despite that poor first half, Bell still finished with 24 carries for 193 yards.
Kamide balanced that out with his timely throws. He went seven-for-13 for 229 yards, averaging more than 30 yards per completion. He would seal the victory with his fourth and fifth TD passes of the night – 10 yards to Mike Donitzen, then 48 yards to Albro early in the fourth quarter.
By then it was 43-8, and Liverpool brought the reserves. F-M fought to the very end, as Kyle Greer scored a pair of TD’s on matching seven-yard runs and Earley threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Chris Quinn. For the night, Earley went 14-for-25 for 188 yards.
Yet it was Liverpool advancing to the AA playoffs — and to a first-round game Friday night at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium against Baldwinsville full of passion and intrigue.
Way back in the Sept. 5 opener, the Warriors went to B’ville and dominated most of the game, only to see a third-quarter sideline brawl mar the contest and ultimately lead to a handful of player suspensions. Adding further insult, Liverpool later had to forfeit its victory over the Bees when it was found out that it had used an ineligible player.
Since then, the Bees have come to life, winning four straight games to close the regular season, including a 27-26 nail-biter over Corcoran last weekend to clinch this home game. It’s imperative for the Warriors’ defense to contain 1,000-yard running back Malik Burks if it wants to face West Genesee or Corcoran in next week’s AA semifinal round.
Meanwhile, F-M will head to crossover play, visiting 1-6 Auburn Friday night for a 7 p.m. game at Holland Stadium.