Nov 21, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Westhill’s football team was dead-set on making history and going to the state Class B championship game for the first time.
Sure enough, history was made Saturday at Rochester’s Marina Auto Stadium – only it was of the kind the Warriors didn’t want to see.
Hornell running back Austin Dwyer lit up Westhill for a state tournament single-game record 399 yards, leading the Red Raiders to a 49-7 victory over the Warriors in the Class B semifinal.
With that win, Hornell (12-0) advanced to face Nanuet in next Sunday’s state final in the Carrier Dome, and Dwyer was the main reason.
With those 399 yards on 35 carries, Dwyer broke the mark of 394 yards set by Geneva’s Jeremiah Allen in 2007 and moved his season total to 2,667 yards, a single-season Section V record. Hornell finished with 580 total yards, to Westhill’s meager total of 150.
Going in, the question was whether the Warriors, with its potent passing game (Jeff Law threw for 367 yards in the regional final win over Johnson City), or Hornell, with Dwyer and its power game, would prevail.
The answer didn’t come right away. True, Hornell took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 11 plays, 10 of them Dwyer carries, including the 16-yard touchdown run that capped off the march.
But Westhill used a Mark McAnaney punt that pinned the Red Raiders deep in its own territory to set up a short drive later in the period. Law threw 29 yards to Nathan Nigolian, then hit Dan Ross in the end zone on an 11-yard TD pass. R.J. Chester’s extra point put the Warriors in front, 7-6.
It was Westhill’s lone lead of the game – and it lasted all of 50 seconds.
On the second play of Hornell’s ensuing drive, Dwyer took a toss, cut back to make the entire Westhill defense miss, then took off for the end zone 74 yards away. That, plus Dominic Scavo’s two-point pass to Sam Stonerock, had the Red Raiders in front for good.
So it remained until a 14-second stretch, late in the second quarter, that all but sealed Westhill’s fate.
Not long after Dylan Dunn intercepted Law’s pass at the Hornell 20, Stonerock took off on a 55-yard run, recovering his own fumble. One play later, Dwyer scored from 16 yards out.
Hornell kicked off, short – and Nathan Nigolian mishandled it, allowing the Red Raiders’ Scott McKibben to recover on the Westhill 35.
What happened next took everyone at Westhill by surprise. Hornell ran a reverse – but Dunn, running right, stopped to throw, and Scavo, the quarterback, was all alone 15 yards behind anyone in the Warrior secondary, catching the pass for an easy touchdown.
The ensuing two-point conversion made it 28-7, where it stayed until halftime, which only delayed the runaway.
Three more times in the third quarter, Hornell would find the end zone. Dwyer’s 69-yard sprint set up one TD, and he scored again on a 73-yard run later in the period, with Scavo adding a pair of short scoring runs.
Forced to play catch-up much of the way, Law struggled, going nine-for-19 for 100 yards as Ross also took turns at quarterback, completing four of 10 passes for 64 yards.
Both of them, along with running back Tyler Nigolian, found it tough to maneuver against a fast, swarming Hornell defense that did a superb all-around job.
Now Westhill will see Law, Ross, Tyler Nigolian, David Chini and Josh Davoli depart. However, a strong junior class assures that the Warriors will be a favorite to repeat its Section III and regional titles in 2010 – and perhaps, take those last steps to the top.