Sep 26, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Staying patient, and working its way through enough mistakes to sink any possible upset bid, the Chittenango football team put an end to Vernon Verona Sherill’s dreams of an undefeated season.
Going into the Red Devils’ own den on a windy and overcast Saturday afternoon, the Bears took charge long before the fourth quarter, but didn’t take the lead for good until that last stanza on its way to a 30-19 victory.
With the win, Chittenango stated its case as a Class B East division championship contender, part of a four-way battle that might include VVS Oneida and South Jefferson before it’s all over.
VVS had built a 3-0 start through a high-octane offense that had put together 140 points in those three wins.
To counter it, Chittenango resorted to a ball-control offense that would pile up yardage all afternoon. Kyle Mills carried the ball 35 times, for 149 yards, and quarterback Devin Christopher offered balance by going 15-for-23 for 219 yards, no mean feat in windy conditions.
But the game started with VVS showing every intention of keeping up that frantic pace that had worked so well throughout September.
In fact, on the game’s third play, Tyler Mautner found Tyler Curtis on a deep route over the middle, and Curtis ran the rest of the way to the end zone for a 78-yard touchdown. That would be one of just four completions Mautner would make all afternoon on 16 attempts.
Quickly, the Bears answered, mixing up tough runs by Kyle Mills with a 19-yard pass from Tyler Christopher to Ben Mesmer. Dylan Furco ran the final 11 yards for the TD that tied the game 6-6.
The pattern was set – VVS would succeed with big plays, Chittenango with long, sustained marches.
After Zach Drake’s 27-yard field goal put the Bears ahead 9-6, Dylan Guider took off on a 62-yard run, setting up Mautner’s seven-yard TD pass to Curtis early in the second quarter.
Somehow, it stayed 12-9 the rest of the half. Twice, the Bears drove deep into VVS territory, only to fumble the ball away, including Mills giving up the ball inside the Red Devils’ 10.
Chittenango really took over in the second half, though it took a while for the scoreboard to recognize that fact. Part of it was the turnovers, as the Bears’ total ran to four through another fumble, plus an interception.
Meanwhile, Colin Way broke loose for a 61-yard TD run just two plays after James Gorton’s interception, making it 19-9. But VVS would not score again.
The Bears’ fortunes turned around when, late in the third quarter, Nic Bacon wrested the ball away from VVS defensive back Jamie Cielinski for a crucial first down.
Instead of a fifth turnover, Chittenango put together a 65-yard drive that Mills finished off with a one-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, making it 19-16.
Now it was VVS giving up the ball, as Curtis fumbled near midfield on the first play following Mills’ TD, and Mesmer fell on it.
Two penalties pushed the Bears back to first-down-and-37, but with two long passes from Christopher To Messmer, Chittenango got the first down, further discouraging a tired Red Devils defense.
When VVS expected another throw, Mills instead ran a counter 28 yards down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:50 left.
On the very next VVS play, Mills intercepted an errant Mautner pass and returned it to the Red Devils’ 19. Two plays later, from the 21, Christopher found Mesmer open over the middle for another TD, and the Bears had scored 14 points in a span of 49 seconds. VVS could not answer.
Chittenango (2-2, 1-0 league) gets another big test back Friday at 7 p.m. when it faces defending Class B champion Oneida, who is 3-1 following a 54-20 win over Phoenix. It will be Homecoming in Bear Country, and Chittenango’s Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be inducted at halftime.
As for VVS (3-1, 1-1 league), it holds its own Homecoming festivities and will host Solvay (2-2) Saturday at 2 p.m., its last regular-season home game before it finishes the season at South Jefferson and Oneida.