Nov 07, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Going after a third Section III title in four years, the Cazenovia football team ran into someone bigger, stronger – and in the end, better.
General Brown moved to 10-0 and put an end to the Lakers’ own nine-game win streak by prevailing 27-14 in Saturday’s Class C final at the Carrier Dome.
The Lions’ defense made the primary difference, holding Cazenovia without an offensive touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.
“We did have our chances, but we came up short,” Cazenovia head coach Tom Neidl said.
Indeed, four different times the Lakers had the ball inside GB territory in the first half without scoring. It also saw a Justin Hoffmann punt return for a touchdown late in the first quarter called back by an illegal block penalty.
By then, the Lions already had a 13-0 lead. It had blocked Chris Rogers’ long field-goal attempt on the Lakers’ first possession, then broke Nick Klusacek loose for a 54-yard run two plays later. Jared Flath’s one-yard TD run put GB on the board.
Cazenovia got victimized again on its next possession, when Klusacek picked off Jeff Hopsicker’s deep pass and returned it 34 yards into Laker territory. Continuing his hot start, Klusacek tore through the line on a 34-yard TD run two plays later.
Staring at its biggest deficit of the entire season, the Lakers settled down on defense and kept GB off the board the rest of the half, getting a key turnover when Liam Ryan recovered a Devon Tyler fumble just before they hit the break.
It was still 13-0 when, early in the third quarter, Zack Golden took a GB punt at his own 38-yard line. Golden broke three tackles, then tore up the right sideline until he was in the end zone, a 62-yard TD return that, this time, was not called back.
But this didn’t rattle the Lions at all. Instead, on the second play of the ensuing possession, quarterback Robert Thomas went deep and found Tyler, a 61-yard connection. On fourth down at the two, Flath plowed his way into the end zone, and the margin was back to 19-7.
The Lions put it away early in the fourth quarter. Ken Cote’s punt pinned Cazenovia on its own two-yard line, and on the next play Tyler tackled Chad Dorrance in the end zone for a safety.
Now down 21-7, the Lakers watched as Klusacek returned the ensuing free kick 43 yards to the Cazenovia 37. It took just five plays for GB to find the end zone again, as Klusacek capped off his big day with a 20-yard sprint to the end zone.
Overall, Klusacek had 147 rushing yards on nine carries, while Flath added 91 yards on 18 carries.
Throughout the game, the Lions used its size advantage on the interior lines to physically overwhelm Cazenovia. Neidl said that GB didn’t surprise them with the game plan, but just executed better.
Finally, the Lakers’ offense got points when Jake Ayer pounced on a Dorrance fumble near the goal line with 2:32 left. Dorrance, overall, had 65 yards on 16 carries, while Hopsicker completed 12 of 22 passes for 119 yards.
General Brown is headed toward a Class C regional final with Chenango Forks next weekend at Union-Endicott High School near Binghamton.
As for the Lakers, who finish 9-1, many seniors depart, including Golden, Dorrance, Rogers, Hoffmann, Ayer, Tom Colligan, Cody Foster and Cody Kemp.
The return of Hopsicker, Ryan, Dan Majewski, Nick Petrovich, Liam Ryan, Tom Toole and Forest Blanchard should keep Cazenovia in winning form in 2010. In the last four years, the Lakers’ record is a sterling 36-5.