Oct 01, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If it was even possible, the Cazenovia football team showed more character in the aftermath of its epic double-overtime win over Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
A mere six days later, playing without top wide receiver Doyle Judge, and trailing in the fourth quarter at Oneida, the Lakers stepped up on both sides of the ball, making the crucial plays to beat the Indians 18-8.
By winning, Cazenovia, no. 7 in the latest state Class B rankings improved its record to 5-0 and stayed in first place in the Class B East division, and halted Oneida’s own three-game win streak.
“They (our players) were tested, and they came out and did a nice job,” head coach Tom Neidl said.
Winning a road game against a hot team in Oneida in any circumstance was daunting enough. To pull it off less than a week after the 50-44 duel with VVS, with defense in a starring role, made it even more special.
Judge had sustained a concussion in the VVS game. Kept out on this night, he watched as Cazenovia’s receivers dropped a handful of Jeff Hopsicker’s passes, adding to the difficulty.
What wasn’t dropped, though, was Chris Giradina’s intercepton of a Ryan Mosack pass midway through the first quarter, which thwarted an Oneida scoring threat. It led to Nick Christakos kicking a 21-yard field goal, which put the Lakers up 3-0.
It didn’t stay there for long. Oneida took the ensuing kickoff and went 80 yards in nearly six minutes, Mosack throwing several times to Evan Watson while mixing in runs by Chris Chesebro and P.J. Tayntor.
On fourth down at the Lakers’ four-yard line, Oneida went for it – and on a rollout, Mosack found Watson on the sideline for the touchdown. Chesebro, sprung by a crunching Matt Barlow block, ran in for two points to make it 8-3.
Now the Indians’ defense stepped up late in the half, making two key stops, one of them an interception by Shawn Ano at Oneida’s 15. So it stayed 8-3, through halftime and a scoreless third quarter as the tension built.
Ironically, it was Cazenovia’s second turnover that set up the game’s unquestioned turning point. Throwing deep on fourth down from the Indians’ 27, Hopsicker again floated it into traffic. But instead of batting the pass down, Mosack intercepted it, leaving Oneida pinned on its own two-yard line.
And just two plays later, when Mosack stepped back to throw, the Lakers brought pressure – and Travis Mimms deflected the low pass, then caught it in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:49 to play.
A great two-point scramble, where Hopsicker somehow escaped a sack and found Ben Romagnoli in the end zone, put the Lakers ahead 11-8, but the defense wasn’t done making big plays.
Staring at fourth-and-eight at the Lakers’ 44 with just over four minutes to play, Oneida went for it. Mosack dropped back to throw, and this time Mimms sacked him.
Cazenovia turned that short field into the clinching points, Hopsicker gaining a key third down on an option play, then going 25 yards to set up John Greacen’s four-yard jaunt to the end zone. Hopsicker led his team with 95 rushing yards.
Another interception, this time by Chris Schaffner (the same man who had an interception and fumble recovery in the two overtime periods against VVS), clinched the victory. All game long, linebackers Noah Shepard and Nick Petrovich kept making plays, with a combined 35 tackles between them.
Now the Lakers can clinch the B East regular-season crown when it hosts Chittenango in its Homecoming game next Saturday at Buckley-Volo Field. Game time has been moved back to 2:30 from its original 1:30 start. The Bears are 3-2, coming off a 31-21 victory over VVS where running back Jake Bicknell had 232 yards on 37 carries.