Nov 07, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Wide right – two words that will please the ears of the Baldwinsville football team, and haunt Christian Brothers Academy, now and for a while to come.
The Bees, who waited 20 years (1989 to 2009) between sectional titles, earned back-to-back championships for the first time Sunday in the Carrier Dome, beating the Brothers 16-14 – but not before seeing its championship reign come down to a single kick.
With 21 seconds left, CBA’s Riley Dixon lined up a 42-yard field-goal try. Make it, and the Brothers would be champions. Miss, and B’ville would hang on to its crown.
“I didn’t watch it,” said B’ville head coach Carl Sanfilippo. “I didn’t have the heart to watch it.”
If he did watch, Sanfilippo would have seen Dixon, with his strong right leg, crush the ball toward the uprights, with plenty of distance. But the ball started to hook, and went into the net wide right, setting off a celebration for the fans in red – and consternation for the fans in purple and gold.
CBA, to some degree, caused its own trouble by suffering four turnovers, two of them in the fourth quarter, and also muffing a punt that led to B’ville’s first touchdown. But much of the trouble, at least in the early going, was caused by B’ville’s stingy defense.
That unit features Nick Robinson, Jake Margrey, Nate Stoughtenger and Mark Stanard on the line, with Dave Middlemore, Steve Mitchell and Carter Twombly at the linebacker spots. Antonio Peck, Eric Tommarello, Collin Twombly and Ben Paprocki work in the secondary, and put together, they kept B’ville ahead and forced the Brothers into crucial mistakes.
Mitchell had a team-high 11 tackles and forced a fumble, while Robinson came up with eight tackles and a sack. Together, they helped B’ville blank CBA in the first half – which, given the familiarity the Bees and Brothers had with each other, was not that surprising.
They were playing for the fourth time in two seasons. And both had revenge in mind, as CBA looked to atone for dropping last year’s sectional final 30-13, a game it led at halftime.
B’ville, for its part, wanted payback for the 14-10 defeat it took back on Oct. 15 at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, when rain, wind and mud combined to slow down the Bees’ vaunted running attack as Tyler Rouse had just 80 yards on that night.
Now, on the clean Carrier Dome turf, Rouse was out, not fully healed from the concussion that kept him out of most of the Class AA semifinal win over Fayetteville-Manlius. So Parker Kiff, whose 155 yards helped conquer the Hornets, got the nod to start.
Kiff carried it 21 times in the first half, as the Bees four times moved into CBA territory. The first time, on fourth down at the Brothers’ 45, Colligan went for it with a quarterback sneak and got stuffed, giving CBA good field position – which it wasted two plays later when Collin Twombly stepped in and intercepted Tyler Hamblin’s pass at the Bees’ 39.
On CBA’s next possession, Hamblin saw a sideline pass slip through the hands of a receiver – and into the waiting arms of Eric Tommarello at the CBA 47, B’ville’s second interception in a four-minute span.
Despite all this, the Brothers hung in there, thanks to that fourth-down stop and, in the second quarter, Mark Stanard twice missing field goals. A 40-yard attempt fell short, and a 28-yard try hit the right post after solid runs by Kiff and Casey Colligan set up the try.
But CBA wasn’t moving the ball as the Bees’ defense continued to punish Hamblin every time he tried to run or throw. The Brothers had just two first downs and 38 total yards in the entire first half and made things worse when, late in the half, it tried a fake punt, only to see Stanard tackle Dixon at the CBA 26.
Finally, the Bees broke through with this fourth scoring opportunity. Aided by a pass interference penalty, the Bees used three runs by Kiff and Colligan to move it to the one-yard line – from where, with 25 seconds left in the half, Kiff (who would finish with 138 yards on 40 carries) bowled into the end zone. Stanard’s extra point made it 7-0, where it stood at the half.
All that changed on CBA’s first possession of the third quarter. Anthony Bunn, Manny Collins and Mike Vavonese all broke off big runs as, from its own 19, the Brothers put up its first sustained drive of the game.
Hamblin converted a key fourth down at the Bees’ 40, then got lucky when Paprocki dropped a possible interception. On the very next play, Collins made a diving catch of Hamblin’s 39-yard pass at the one-yard line. Hamblin scored one play later – but Dixon hooked the PAT wide, and B’ville clung to a 7-6 lead.
Looking back, that single miss by Dixon set in motion the pulsating events of the fourth quarter.
On the second play of that final period, Bunn fumbled at the Bees’ 46 – and Collin Twombly fell on it, the Brothers’ third turnover. Just two plays later, Paprocki took a handoff, cut back and outran the CBA defenders to the end zone on a 44-yard TD run.
Even more important was what happened on the ensuing PAT. Colligan, the holder, bobbled the snap and, improvising, took the ball, ran to his right and dove into the end zone. Now B’vlile led 15-6, and CBA needed two scores to win.
With 5:37 to play, Stanard hit a short punt, and though three Bees tried to down it, the ball remained in play. Knowing that the ball was not dead, CBA’s Evan Adamo scooped it up and, before B’ville could properly react, returned the punt 78 yards, untouched, for a touchdown that, with Dixon making the PAT this time around, cut the Bees’ margin to two.
Now just trying to hang on, the Bees went back to its trademark ground game. Kiff got one first down on a third-and-five, but Colligan got stopped on a third down at midfield, giving the Brothers a chance to move ahead.
Taking over at its own 22 with 2:34 left, Hamblin scrambled and hit Adamo on a 23-yard completion to put it near midfield, then found Adamo (who had seven catches for 138 yards) again on a 10-yard completion. But on a screen pass with 1:57 left, Greg Thomson fumbled it – and Carter Twombly recovered at the Bees’ 37. It was CBA’s fourth turnover.
CBA used its timeouts to get the ball back on its own 29 with 59 seconds to play. Hamblin got two quick completions to Adamo, then got 15 more yards thanks to pass interference that put it inside the Bees’ 30, within field-goal range. A short completion put it on the 25, but there the drive stalled, setting up Dixon’s fateful boot.
Despite the ending, CBA head coach Joe Casamento said it was a reflection of his team’s character that, despite those turnovers, it still had a kick to win the sectional title in the final seconds.
Still, B’ville had the championship – and a date Saturday with Section IV champion Corning in the Class AA regional playoffs at East Syracuse-Minoa Stadium. Game time is 2:30. The winner gets Clarence or Rush-Henrietta in the Nov. 20 state semifinals at Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester.