Oneida football handles Phoenix

Thanks to what took place in 2008, the Oneida football team did not get accustomed to losing in the regular season.

Thus, the Indians' 26-14 defeat to South Jefferson on Sept. 18 did not feel to good, and the defending Class B champions were determined to avoid that feeling again.

Back home on Friday night, Oneida unleashed all kinds of misery on winless Phoenix and pounded its way to a 54-20 victory over the Firebirds.

Playing strong defense when it needed to do so, the Indians held Phoenix to a scant nine yards in the first half, while the offense was busy piling up 34 unanswered points.

Jeremy Rodriguez began the onslaught by throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Mike Rabbitt, capping off an opening drive that covered 11 plays and 76 yards.

Nate Mallinder made it 14-0 by scoring on a 14-yard run and two-point conversion,all set up by Eric Riley's 44-yard punt return.

Rodriguez capped off a near-perfect start by throwing deep down the middle and finding Riley who, despite double coverage, finished off a 74-yard TD reception to make it 21-0 (Brian Chevier made the extra point) going into the second quarter. Overall, Rodriguez was seven-for-nine for 153 yards.

Oneida's running game took over, with pounding drives the rest of the half that led to Mallinder's second TD (a four-yard run) and Nathan Hall scoring from seven yards out.

It didn't stop there. Hall added a 25-yard TD run in the third quarter to make it 41-0, and though the starters went to the bench, the fun continued.

Matt Mosack, Oneida's backup quarterback, threw a 73-yard TD pass to Evan Watson. Even after Phoenix got on the board, Rabbitt returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a final TD.

Aside from Mallinder (50 yards), Chad Chesebro (68 yards) and Patrick Tayntor (60 yards) added further depth to the Indians' ground game.

Oneida (3-1, 1-1 league) will try and spoil Chittenango's Homecoming next Friday when the Indians face the Bears for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

And the game took on much bigger meaning when the Bears, in its Class B East league opener, handed Vernon Verona Sherrill its first defeat of the season 30-19 last Saturday. Now the Oneida-Chittenango winner will have a great shot at taking the league title.

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