Oct 28, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
An entire season, and the reign of West Genesee as state Class AA football champions, hinged on a single play.
The Wildcats led by one over Corcoran with 21.3 seconds to play in last Friday’s Section III Class AA first-round playoff game in Camillus, but had just seen the Cougars go in the end zone when Rasheid Burns threw a five-yard touchdown pass to LaQuan Rouse.
Without a kicker, the Cougars had no choice but to go for two points and the win. Yet it still looked good for Corcoran since it had tailback Henry Bradley, who had tortured WG’s defense all night, piling up 295 yards on 35 carries, and was quite capable of gaining three more yards.
At this moment, though, when it absolutely had to make a stop, WG did so, stuffing Bradley short of the goal line.
Moments later, the Wildcats had recovered the onside kick and were the relieved survivors of a 27-26 thriller where it had to rally in the second half, then hung on against Bradley and his determined Corcoran mates.
Though the Cougars came into this game 3-4, it had not lost any of its games by more than nine points all season, including one-point defeats to Liverpool (23-22) and Baldwinsville (27-26), so WG knew it would be a challenge.
Playing for the first time this season on its Field Turf facility, the Wildcats went through a nervous start, requiring its defense to make the first big play.
Corcoran was driving deep in WG territory when Burns tried a swing pass to the sideline — but Jake Fietkiewicz anticipated it, got the interception, and took off, untouched, 91 yards to the other end zone.
Bradley answered early in the second quarter, going 23 yards for his first TD of the night, only to see WG stage its first good drive of the night, capped by Sirron Wright’s one-yard scoring plunge to make it 13-6.
With Bradley causing so much damage, WG stacked the line of scrimmage late in the first half, trying to stop him. Instead, from the Wildcats’ 34, Burns threw over them, finding Mike Stenson in the end zone. When Bradley scored on the two-point conversion, Corcoran had a 14-13 halftime edge.
Through all this, the Wildcats didn’t panic, instead taking charge for a brief time in the third quarter with a pair of impressive drives.
Jim Marks, who went nine-for-19 for 145 yards through the air, led these drives, with Ryan McConnell scoring on a one-yard run and Wright returning for a 21-yard TD run to make it 27-14.
Once again, though, Corcoran would come back. Bradley ate up large chunks of yards, including a 10-yard TD sprint late in the third quarter, and his determined runs keyed the last drive that set up the crashing climax.
Having survived it, WG knows a huge challenge awaits when it plays Liverpool in the Class AA semifinals Saturday night at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium, starting at 7 p.m.
The Warriors have its own great tailback in Greg Bell, who gained 206 yards in the teams’ 35-8 rout of Baldwinsville in the opening round. So WG’s defense, burned so much by Bradley, must find a way to contain Bell.
And Liverpool is out for revenge, too, having lost three times in the last two seasons to the Wildcats. That includes the 2007 AA semifinal (that was played at CNS, too) and this year’s wild 51-34 affair played Sept. 19 in Camillus. The winner gets Henninger or Rome Free Academy in next Saturday’s AA final at the Carrier Dome.