Sep 15, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Two weeks, two tough road trips, two stirring comebacks — and two exciting victories for the Chittenango football team, who might be starting to feel that something special is happening.
The signs are everywhere, and not just in the raw numbers of the Bears’ 29-28 victory over Homer last Friday night at George Butts Field — but it was the way that it all went down.
Down by two touchdowns, 28-14, late in the third quarter as a series of turnovers led to Homer points, the Bears stormed back, thanks mainly to the quartet of Jon Stevens, Andy Moth, Justin Pistello and Jake Bicknell.
From the Trojans’ 43-yard line, Stevens threw a swing pass to Moth, who followed a series of perfect blocks and took off, 57 yards to the other end zone. Zach Drake’s extra point made it 28-21 going into the fourth quarter.
Thanks to a nice punt return by Jake Mills, the Bears took over on its own 42 early in the fourth quarter. Nine steady plays (most of them Pistello runs) put Chittenango on Homer’s 11, where Stevens found Moth again for a second consecutive touchdown with 8:17 left in regulation.
What followed had to tell every spectator that this was Chittenango’s night.
Drake, three-for-three in extra points, came in for the tying PAT. However, Bicknell, the holder, bobbled the snap, forcing him to pick the ball up and run.
In a race to the end zone, Bicknell won it, and instead of that one extra point, the Bears had two, and had sneaked into a one-point lead.
Homer got one more good chance. From his own eight-yard line, Trojan quarterback Joey Rivers completed five passes on a drive to Chittenango’s 21-yard line. Already, Rivers had completed 19 of his 40 passes for 310 yards, a school record. One more great throw might help win it.
However, the Bears’ defense forced Rivers out of the pocket, and he threw off target — allowing Bicknell to pick it off an seal a victory.
A week earlier, Chittenango gained plenty of satisfaction out of its come-from-behind, 28-12 win at Solvay on the same field where head coach Jack Hayes had spent his high school days.
The task at Homer was just as large. Burning after a 32-26 season-opening overtime defeat to its biggest rivals from Cortland, the Trojans brought that fire to the field, and made Chittenango work even harder for this second win.
Not at first, though. The Bears took the opening kickoff and drove 64 yards in 12 plays, ending with Pistello scoring from two yards out. Moth, putting on his defensive hat, intercepted a Rivers pass at midfield, setting up a short drive late in the first quarter where Pistello went 21 yards for his second touchdown of the night.
Ahead 14-0, Chittenango relaxed a bit — too much, as it turned out, for by halftime, that entire margin was gone.
With a 13-play, 73-yard march that stretched into the second period, Homer got on the board with Kevin Reese’s one-yard TD run. The Trojans felt even better after Pistello fumbled at Homer’s 11-yard line, denying a chance to bring the margin back.
Instead, Homer went 89 yards in seven plays, including four long pass plays. Rivers hit Zach Hatfield from 27 yards out for the TD, and when Rivers and Joey Hartnett combined for two points, they were tied 14-14 going into halftime.
Rivers did most of the work when, at the start of the third quarter, Homer drove 94 yards to the go-ahead score, 85 of them from Rivers passes. Rivers earned his second TD pass, a 27-yard strike Rivers, and Homer was up 21-14.
Mired in three consecutive possessions that ended in turnovers, Chittenango started to take care of the ball, and another big comeback was in the works. Overall, Pistello keyed both the early and late rallies, carrying the ball 24 times for 147 yards.
Chittenango will finally be at home, in Bear Country, this Friday — but it faces a mighty opponent in Chenango Forks, a perennial Section IV Class B champion who has, among other things, knocked off Cazenovia in the regional round each of the last two years. Game time is at 7 p.m.