Nov 02, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
One less turnover here, and one more big play there, and maybe the Corcoran and Henninger football teams are preparing this week for a city showdown at the Carrier Dome for the Section III Class AA championship.
It did not turn out that way, though, as the Black Knights fell to Christian Brothers Academy 21-20 and the Cougars lost to Baldwinsville 22-15 in the AA semifinals played last Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium.
That both of these games were close reflected both the close competition within the area and the pattern established the previous weekend by both Henninger and Corcoran.
Those first-round games on Oct. 23 were difficult acts to follow. Henninger had blown a huge fourth-quarter lead against Liverpool with special teams breakdowns, yet had rallied with a last-minute drive to win 40-36. Corcoran had gone through two overtimes, and needed two different blocks of possible go-ahead field goals, to eliminate CNS 27-21.
To reach the final, Henninger, the defending champions, had to get payback against a CBA team that had beat them 35-6 on Sept. 12 at Sunnycrest Field. The Black Knights were a much better team now, and the Brothers had gone through a 1-3 stretch in mid-season before recovering to make its playoff run.
Henninger went to the air and took the early 6-0 lead, Shawn Bryant finding Cole King on three passes for 73 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown strike. CBA immediately countered with a 14-play, 67-yard march that Tyler Hamblin finished off with a three-yard TD run.
Though King would return a punt 77 yards for another TD in the second quarter, he, and the rest of the Henninger offense, struggled in the game’s middle stages against a CBA defense that took away the passing options and dared Henninger to run.
A trio of turnovers hurt the Black Knights’ cause, too, as a fumble led to a Brothers touchdown in the second quarter and Bryant got intercepted twice in the third period, after CBA extended its lead to 21-12.
For all that, though, Henninger almost caught up. Bryant’s 16-yard TD run with 1:47 left, plus a two-point conversion, cut the margin to one before CBA recovered the ensuing onside kick to clinch it.
With the Black Knights’ reign over, now it was Corcoran’s turn, and the challenge was immense. Baldwinsville was 8-0 and, in Malik Burks, had a running back that had already surpassed 2,000 yards for the season.
To have any chance, the Cougars’ defense had to keep Burks from dominating the contest — and it somehow pulled this off, as Burks only had 184 yards, and needed 36 carries to get that total.
Also, Corcoran forced B’ville into three turnovers, one in each of the first three periods. Every time, the Cougars got points from those turnovers, starting with Riley Stroman’s 30-yard field goal and continuing with Shakem Buckmon’s 29-yard TD pass to Tyquan Mahon.
Down 14-9 at the half, Corcoran appeared to get in position for a huge upset in the third quarter, for reasons beyond Chao Porch’s seven-yard TD run that put the Cougars ahead 15-14 after the Bees’ third turnover.
While playing defense, Niko Manning, the Bees’ senior quarterback, suffered an injured chest and went to the sidelines. Now all Corcoran had to do was contain Manning’s replacement, Casey Colligan, who had thrown just two passes all season.
But Colligan stayed cool, leading the Bees on an 80-yard march that stretched into the fourth quarter, though not without controversy.
Corcoran forced a third-down-and-13 on the 49-yard line. B’ville went with a trick play, as Ben Messmer took a reverse, then threw deep downfield to Jed Clouston. Replays showed that Clouston caught the ball on a bounce, but it was ruled complete.
That huge break turned into points when, with 10:31 left, Colligan rolled right and found tight end Nick Alenciewicz in traffic, producing a 20-yard touchdown reception.
Though it had three more possessions, Corcoran could not put together a drive to answer, and B’ville’s Mike Guinta sealed the Bees’ first trip to the finals since 2002 by intercepting Buckmon’s pass at midfield with 2:36 to play.
The sectional finals at the Carrier Dome start Friday at 5 p.m., with state no. 1-ranked Westmoreland against Weedsport in Class D, followed by the Class A title game between archrivals New Hartford and Whitesboro.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., Cazenovia plays General Brown in Class C, with B’ville and CBA settling the AA title at 2 p.m. The Class B championship, at 5 p.m., pits first-time finalist Marcellus against Westhill.