Oct 24, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In one incredible Friday night of action and high emotion, the Corcoran and Henninger football teams went from glory to disaster, then back to glory, all within short spans.
And when it was all was done, the Cougars and Black Knights had made it through their respective crises to within one step of a possible all-city Section III Class AA final in the Carrier Dome on Nov. 7.
Corcoran went first in the drama department, requiring two tense overtimes and two big field goal blocks on its home turf to get past Cicero-North Syracuse 27-21.
Across town, in the Carrier Dome, Henninger blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead, then somehow regrouped for a game-winning drive to stun Liverpool 40-36.
Just to reach the playoffs, Henninger had to beat Auburn and Utica Proctor down the stretch. So the challenge of 6-1 Liverpool did not bother the Black Knights in any way.
In fact, before the Warriors knew what hit them, Henninger had an 18-0 lead. Cole King was the catalyst, returning a Cam Jones interception 46 yards for one touchdown, then catching a 44-yard pass from Shawn Bryant for another.
Though Liverpool pulled back within 18-14 early in the third quarter when Dion Dyer returned a fumble 30 yards for a TD, Henninger appeared to get away again when Bryant threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Richard Neal and Langston Lamber added another TD on a one-yard plunge.
So it was 32-14 going into the fourth quarter, where Liverpool nearly pulled off a miracle after Jones threw a deep pass that Ethan VanMarter turned into a 44-yard TD play to make it 32-22.
In short, the Black Knights’ special teams had a complete breakdown. Mike Donitzen blocked a punt that Derek Eason returned for a TD with 9:27 to play, and though Jimmy Wright missed the PAT, the margin was down to 32-28.
Then, with 2:04 left, Rich Green took another punt at his own five-yard line and, riding a series of great blocks, ran from the right corner to the left sideline, 95 yards to the other end zone. That, plus a two-point conversion, left Henninger behind 36-32, its dreams supposedly crumbled.
But Bryant would not let the Black Knights’ season end. From his own 20, Bryant led a classic drive as time wound down, converting a fourth-down-and-eight from his own 22 with a nine-yard pass to Shaqueal Rowser, then going 38 yards to Rowser to put Henninger in Liverpool territory.
Bryant then went 21 yards, to Cole King, and took the ball himself for a nine-yard run to the eight.
With just 27 seconds to play, Bryant, seeing all his other receivers covered, found Darryl Mercer open in the end zone.
It was Mercer’s first catch of the season – and the winning touchdown, too, though the Black Knights had to knock down one more Jones throw to the end zone as the clock ran out.
Just before this wild ending played out in the Dome, Corcoran had its own crazy affair to deal with against CNS, and the craziness began in the fourth quarter of a 14-14 tie.
Cicero Stroman’s 35-yard field-goal try to put Corcoran in front with 3:29 left got blocked, and as time wound down, the Northstars maneuvered itself to set up a game-winning try for Andrew Falvey.
Falvey’s 30-yard try flew wide – but Falvey got roughed, so he got another chance from 25 yards out. Corcoran blocked this kick, though, and returned it for what it thought would be the winning touchdown – only to see a questionable illegal block penalty bring it all back.
Somehow, Corcoran regrouped and, in the first overtime period (both teams get a possession on the 20-yard line), quickly scored, Chao Porch’s 13-yard run setting up his own two-yard TD. CNS struck right back, Ryan Lacey’s 15-yard pass to Ryan Lacey leading to a Lacey one-yard TD run.
So they went to the second OT 21-21. Going first, CNS reached the one-yard line before the Cougars made a goal-line stand, then blocked yet another Falvey field-goal try, this one from 21 yards.
Porch promptly ran 16 yards on Corcoran’s possession to get the Cougars close to victory, and fullback Travon Burke’s three-yard run to the end zone sent the Cougars into the AA semifinals.
Way back in regulation, the Northstars had gone up 6-0 with a pair of Falvey field goals, one of them a 47-yarder that set a CNS school record.
But Corcoran countered in the second quarter with two touchdowns, as Tyshawn Golden scored on a 12-yard run and Jerry Adams sprinted 63 yards up the middle for another score.
It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter that CNS tied it. Tom Padula’s halfback option pass to Jaiqwan Jones set up Lacey throwing nine yards to Jones and Padula getting the tying two-point conversion.
Somehow, Corcoran survived all that followed, and earned a shot at undefeated (8-0) Baldwinsville in the AA semifinals, while Henninger tries to avenge a regular-season defeat to CBA in the other semifinal. The games start Friday at 5 p.m. at CNS’s Bragman Stadium, with Henninger-CBA first, then B’ville-Corcoran.
Meanwhile, in Class A, Nottingham’s run ended against New Hartford with a 44-6 loss to the Spartans. Anthony Acevedo had three touchdowns as the Bulldogs fell to 3-5 on the season.