Oct 28, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Within the ranks of the Westhill football team, a great deal of concern had to rise about the way the Section III Class B playoffs got underway.
Expected to handle South Jefferson in last Friday night’s opening-round game, the Warriors instead found itself trailing the Spartans at halftime. Westhill fans wondered when, if, ever, the alarm would go off.
Then came the third quarter — and Westhill, fully awake, tore into South Jefferson for four touchdowns and 28 points that turned a possible disaster into a comfortable 41-16 victory and yet another trip to the semifinal round.
Westhill entered the game riding a five-game win streak, all of it achieved since senior quarterback Mike DeCarr returned from a separated left shoulder injury suffered in pre-season practice.
During those five wins, Westhill scored 223 points, and that kind of production was expected to continue against a South Jefferson squad that had lost four games in a row following a 3-0 start.
Except that when the game kicked off, only the Spartans seemed to show up.
Unable to move the ball for much of the first half, the Warriors saw South Jefferson take a 7-0 lead on Ryan Jackson’s one-yard touchdown run. Then came a low point in the second quarter as Westhill had to take a safety.
So as the second quarter wound down, the Warriors were down 9-0, the first time it had dealt with a deficit in six weeks. But it started to climb out of it when DeCarr drove his team to the Spartans’ seven-yard line, then found big tight end Tom Fisher in the end zone.
That seemed to arouse Westhill — and whatever head coach Gary Griffo told his team at halftime, that led to great things once the third quarter got underway.
To start with, DeCarr, from his own 43, noticed that the Spartans were paying too much defensive attention to Dan Ross. Thus, he threw deep — and found Nate Nigolian in single coverage, a 57-yard touchdown play that put Westhill in front for good.
Moments later, the Warriors had the ball again, and Sam Penizotto took his turn, scoring on a 28-yard run. On Westhill’s next possession, Penizotto took a screen pass from South Jefferson’s 37 and didn’t stop until he was in the end zone again.
To cap off this outburst late in the third quarter, DeCarr threw deep again and found Ross, the touchdown covering 58 yards.
In a matter of minutes, a possible upset had turned into another Westhill conquest, as DeCarr finished with 222 yards through the air, more than half of it to Nigolian, who had a season-best 115 receiving yards. Penizotto would add a third TD in the fourth quarter, on a 14-yard run.
This moved Westhill into the Class B semifinals, where it will face Holland Patent (5-3) Saturday at Henninger High School’s Sunnycrest Field at 1 p.m.
The Golden Knights routed Homer 49-7 in last Saturday’s opening-round playoff game, with Dan Fruscella running for 302 yards in wet, muddy conditions. HP will want to control the ball and the clock with Fruscella to keep the ball away from DeCarr, Ross, Nigolian and Penizotto. The winner plays Oneida or Chittenango in next Saturday’s Class B final at the Carrier Dome.